Friday, May 28, 2010

Post Natal Depression Suffered by Men Too

We’ve all heard about, or have witnessed in our own families, the devastating effects of post natal depression on women and their children. Now, a statistical review of previous studies conducted by researchers at Eastern Virginia Medical School has revealed that some men experience post natal depression too. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal noted that:

Some 10.4% of fathers experience depression during the postpartum period, the analysis showed. In the general population, 4.8% of men are believed depressed at any given point in time, according to government data.

For women, the rate of postpartum depression was estimated at nearly 24%, according to the new analysis, which was published Tuesday in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"When we look at the impact on families and children [of depression in new fathers], this is a public-health problem that goes beyond the individual," said James Paulson, a child clinical psychologist and pediatrics professor at Eastern Virginia and the first author on the paper.

The reasons for paternal postpartum depression are likely similar to those that contribute to the condition in mothers, including sleep deprivation, stress in the parents' relationship and isolation from friends, Dr. Paulson said.
Though the reasons for the depression may be the same for men and women, women are more likely to feel sad and internalize the guilt and pain, where as “depressed men are more likely to exhibit hostility and even aggression.”

The authors of this review are hoping that both men and women seek help for these symptoms as depression in one partner can trigger depression in the other. Maybe if we can recognize that parenthood is not all sweetness and light and acknowledge the challenges more parents will find the help they need.

Flickr Photo by ChrisGoldNY

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Okay, So I Lied....

Jen Kirkman, a stand-up comedian from LA tweeted me her sad/comic story of being lectured by a manicurist for not having kids. The next time she was queried in a salon she, well, lied and pretended to be pregnant. It all started when a manicurist saw her wedding ring and asked if she had kids.
When I told a Korean manicurist that I did not and put my nose back in my magazine, she stopped filing and squeezed my hand until I made eye contact with her. She scolded me saying that in her country to choose not to give a man a child and a parent a grand-child is a sin against the family and woman-hood. (I so wanted to ask, “So, aren’t you glad you are no longer living in that country?”)

She told me that I would change my mind and predicted my grim future of changing my mind when it’s too late and I have no eggs left!

So what did Jen do the next time she was asked by a manicurist “Are you a mother?”
I said, “No.” She said, “I’m sorry.” I said, “That’s okay.” She said, “Do you want to be a mother?” I sat still. How would I answer this in a way that allowed me to go back to reading? She said, “You not ready yet but you will be a mother.” So I said to her, “Well, if you can keep a secret….” and I nodded to my stomach. She said, “How long?” I said, “We haven’t told anyone yet. Very early.” She waved me off. “Okay, okay. I see. I see. Just a few weeks along. I ask no more.”
This story cracked me up because I have passed as tragically childless just to avoid having to explain. In fact I did it today when I was volunteering as a ball spotter for a junior golf tournament. A fellow volunteer asked if I had kids and I just said “No.” He gave me the pity frown. I though briefly about adding “by choice” but I wanted to get back to my side of the fairway and watch for incoming golf balls.

Was I wrong?