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According to the American Psychology Association, 15 percent of women suffer from postpartum depression (600,000 each year in America, alone). It`s usually caused by the dramatic drop in women`s progesterone and estrogen hormone levels, as well as stress, sleep deprivation and packing extra weight during pregnancy. However, postpartum depression isn`t exclusive to women; men, too can suffer from it. Studies also found that lacking social support, excessive stress from becoming a new parent, feeling isolated with limited physical contact with his partner can also lead men to develop postpartum depression and it`s usually associated with feelings of numbness, loneliness, and failure.
But what if your postpartum depression—as a new father—means your woman is less likely to have it? How bad do you think she`ll feel if she finds out you—her husband/partner—has depression? Science says she won`t feel that bad. Some new studies believe postpartum depression in fathers can actually make their female partners less depressive and more satisfied with their relationship. A recent study by a team from University of Southern California found a weird link between Testosterone levels in postpartum fathers and depressive symptoms in their partners.
One hundred forty-nine couples were surveyed and given questionnaires that assessed the following factors; relationship satisfaction, signs of depression, parental stress and the level of aggression each partner had towards the other. Male partners were also asked to offer three saliva samples nine months following the birth of their child to assess their T levels. What happened?
Men with low T levels were linked to various signs of depression whereas men with high T levels were linked to signs of aggression, hostility and stress in postpartum fathers. This however affected their female partners in a whole opposite way.
Surprisingly; women whose partners had lower postpartum T levels reported greater satisfaction with their relationship and showed fewer signs of depression whereas women whose partners had high postpartum T levels reported to have more symptoms of depressions.
Assistant Professor Dr. Darby Saxbe from USC believes low T can make you pay more attention to the baby which can elevate the mother`s state. “It may be that fathers with lower were more invested in their relationships and in caring for their new babies. We know that T can help drive competitive and aggressive behavior, so men with lower T may have shown less of this behavior and more nurturing behavior,” Saxbe said.
Saxbe also believes that trying to treat male post partum depression by elevating T levels may not be the right thing. “I wouldn’t recommend T supplementation as we found in our study. If men had higher T, their partners reported more depression and intimate partner aggression. There is a happy medium, though. Men seemed to fare best if their levels were neither extremely high nor extremely low.”
She believes the best way to treat postpartum depression is through awareness, exercise and getting enough sleep. “I’m not sure if it’s possible for men to control their T levels but the best way to ward off depression is to prioritize self care like sleep, exercise, taking time to unwind, and spending time with loved ones.”
Read about Dr. Darby Saxbe here./
See the original study here.
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