A new study shows men who experience postpartum depression after their partner gives birth have lower testosterone levels than men who don’t have postpartum depression.
The study, released by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), says, “Following the birth of an infant, decreases in testosterone and increases in depressive symptoms have been observed in fathers.”
“We know with women there are ebbs and flows with progesterone and estrogen levels that happen after birth,” Dr. Lorraine Charles said. “What the study is also showing is that after an infant comes into the picture, the testosterone levels in men also go down so they’re linking that to literally causes for depression.”
Symptoms of postpartum depression in men mirror those experienced in women including loss of interest in hobbies, irritability, decreased libido and not feeling like yourself.
It’s unknown why testosterone levels may go down after a partner gives birth but another study from the NIH suggests that it may be because new dads want to invest in their families.
What’s more, the study shows that men who do have lower testosterone levels after birth, feel more bonded with their partner and baby.
“We know there are true changes that happen when a man has a baby,” said Charles. “We must ask how we can support him through community, doctor and family to help him get through the transition.”
She urges men to seek help if they’re experiencing symptoms of postpartum.
“There are support groups, medications to help men get through those rougher patches and times and family and friends can support the dad,” she said. “Also he should get time to sleep more, eat more and do things he likes to do.”
Dr. Charles does not suggest men try to increase their testosterone; there is a significant risk.
Men are urged to go for their own check-up after their baby is born either with the primary care physician or they can reach out to Saint Thomas Hospital and meet with one of their physicians.