Person holding a babies hand.

ED a Possible Consequence of Postpartum Depression in Men

Let’s talk about postpartum depression. Yes, you heard me right. And no, we’re not talking about mothers that experience it… we need to discuss how men are impacted as well.

But let’s think about the term itself for a moment. It can bring up very specific images: depressed mothers, confusion, guilt, and hesitation to embrace parenthood for the potential new parent. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Today, medicine has come a long way to better understanding postpartum depression in how it shows up for parents in the first few months of a new child’s life. But contrary to popular belief, mothers aren’t the only ones that can be affected by or even experience postpartum depression. Men also feel the impact of adding a new baby to their lives.

Regardless of the gender of the parent experiencing postpartum depression, you may be wondering: What does this have to do with erectile dysfunction? The answer might surprise you.

Postpartum depression and erectile dysfunction have more in common than you may realize.

Let’s explore how postpartum depression manifests itself for fathers, and how erectile dysfunction can be impacted by this.

What Is Postpartum Depression?

Postpartum depression can be described as a depressive illness that occurs from having a child. It’s most commonly cited to happen to women who have given birth, affecting over 3 million reported cases a year in the United States. Those affected usually experience a mix of depression and anxiety from what some sources connect to fluctuating levels of hormones post-pregnancy. However, postpartum depression can be treated rather easily through counseling and medication for the person affected most by it.

Though it’s not something that should be dismissed for women, there is a lack of support given to men that experience postpartum depression. The reason for this could lie in gender: as fathers typically do not give birth, it’s likely that there is some skepticism as to whether or not they can experience postpartum depression in the first place.

But just because a father doesn’t give birth to a child doesn’t mean that he can’t be affected by or suffer from postpartum depression.

How Does It Show Up For Men?

So what exactly do symptoms of postpartum depression look like for men? As it turns out, they can vary.

As Healthline writes, evidence has been proven to back up the claims that women aren’t the only ones that can experience postpartum depression. A study in the Journal of Family Issues finds that men experience postpartum depression.

The study looked at a variety of secondary sources — blogs, forums, websites, and chatrooms — where men self-disclosed the symptoms that they were experiencing. “In these postings,” Healthline writes. “Fathers said they didn’t know that men could have postpartum depression and women who saw the signs were unsure [of] what to call it.”

This is unsurprising, with the vast majority of research available on postpartum depression focused on the mother’s symptoms. But the lack of inclusion of men’s affectedness of postpartum depression only adds to the inability that partners may have in helping to manage or even identify the symptoms. In fact, the same study found that “new fathers were frustrated by the lack of information and that the information that they did find focused on mothers,”

What do these men’s symptoms look like? Similar to mothers that experience postpartum depression, affected fathers felt “overwhelmed, exhausted, and trapped.” They also cited feeling neglected by their spouses and other support systems.

Couple lying down in bed looking at each other.

How Does Postpartum Depression Affect Erectile Dysfunction?

Unsurprisingly, there can be a connection between erectile dysfunction and postpartum depression. But what’s the connection here?

The answer is that it’s all in your mental health state.

With both postpartum depression and erectile dysfunction, mental health greatly impacts the ability to feel “better” or as yourself. And as we may know, not all forms of erectile dysfunction have physical causes.

Both postpartum depression and erectile dysfunction could be affected by each other as well. If a man is suffering from postpartum depression, it’s likely that his sex drive will naturally drop or erase itself altogether, which in turn could impact his self-confidence and add to the anxiety and/or depression he may feel from being unable to “perform.”

And though we don’t have the studies and statistics yet to properly correlate this, it’s likely that there are more men that are affected by postpartum depression and erectile dysfunction (with one being a major factor for the other) than is reported.

Better understanding both postpartum depression and erectile dysfunction is vital to our overall well-being and sexual health. But this is also why having a solid support system — whether we are affected by either ailment or not — is so important for everyone to have.

Is It Preventable?

If you or someone that you love is experiencing postpartum depression and erectile dysfunction, you may be wondering what the cure for it all is. Or even if this is something that can be preventable in the first place.

Postpartum depression and erectile dysfunction are impacted by mood and mental health of the individual impacted by it. So while it may not be entirely preventable, it can be managed rather well and quickly with the right support.

Those impacted by postpartum depression or erectile dysfunction (or both!) should be in contact with a licensed medical professional to get a proper diagnosis. From there, counseling and/or medication may be prescribed as treatment. In reports that study women affected by postpartum depression, they cite 1 to 2 weeks being the length of time that symptoms may still appear, though this may take longer or shorter for some people.

In Conclusion

Postpartum depression can affect any new parent, regardless of gender. But for men especially, special care needs to be taken to be able to understand how this shows up for fathers.

Starting a family and raising a new child can be a challenging task for anyone, especially new parents. Postpartum depression shouldn’t be carried in silence, and there’s nothing shameful about experiencing it. But without the access to information and proper care, how can parents of all genders be able to get the help and support that they need?

We have a long way to go when it comes to showing up for the people affected by postpartum depression, mothers and fathers alike.

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