A few days ago, Slate reported that post-partum depression in dads is more common than you might think: 10 percent of new dads showed signs of moderate to severe depression, nearly as much as the 14 percent of new moms who did. Says Slate:
Still, PPD for dads remains understudied, under-recognized, and controversial. Even among scientists who research the baby blues in new fathers, there’s debate about whether “postpartum depression” is the right term. One researcher told me that when talking about men, he prefers “depression during the postnatal period.” Whatever you call it, distress after a baby is born is much easier to explain among moms. Pregnancy and childbirth, of course, are hugely taxing and exhausting for women. And, of course, these processes can wreak havoc with a woman’s hormones and, thereby, her psychological wellbeing.
I get it. Scientists are still trying to pinpoint exactly what causes post-partum depression. A clear explanation might help dispel some of the unfair stigma attached to the condition.
Well, here’s an explanation: having a newborn is just depressing. They are leathery, mewling sacks of meconium that savage your nipples and wake you at 2, 3, 5, and 6 in the morning. They only smile when they have gas, they never make eye contact, and though your aunt insists it has your eyes, all you can see is a voracious space creature who has landed from Planet Nosleep to destroy civilization.
Don’t get me wrong: I love my children now. And I thought I loved them then. But I must have been mistaken.
DadWagon does have someone with a newborn–Theodore’s daughter was born last week–but I don’t care what he has to say about it. He is probably that 90% who have either been hormonally altered or socialized to ignore the reality of just how awful newborns are. I have a lot more respect for that brave minority who understand, with clear vision, the depth of the letdown. They are depressed, and I salute them.