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I thought I was a flawed father when my first son was born and instead of feeling elated, I felt depressed. Turns out, about 10 percent of men feel the same way, according to a new study on postpartum depression in men.
The Journal of The American Medical Association (JAMA) released the report this week, finding prenatal and postpartum depression evident in about 10 percent of the men they surveyed.
I could have used this news back in 1999 when I was plunged into a deep well of depression after my first son was born. Men are trained by media and society to “man up” (read: deny and bury feelings of sadness and vulnerability), especially when it comes to parenting, so I didn’t see my own depression as a treatable condition shared by others; I thought it was just me.
When I wrote about what I went through for Newsweek and in the pages of my book “The 40-Year-Old Version,” the backlash was immediate and harsh. I was called a coward, selfishly putting his own interests above those of his family. But I’ve also met many men who had the same difficulty with sudden parenthood, who shared their stories with me—quietly, and out of public.
As Father’s Day approaches, I wish all new dads luck and success in their new role. In parenting, it all goes by so fast, but if you’re honest with yourself and courageous enough to ask for help when you need it, tomorrow may be a little brighter when it comes.