A Study to Understand Living with Postpartum Depression: The Father's Experience
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Research has consistently demonstrated that the transition to parenthood is a stressful life event. The couple’s relationship goes through a change as they have to redefine their roles in society as well as in their relationship. The father is usually the main source of support for the mother and this is often reciprocated. However, in the occurrence of maternal postpartum depression (PPD), the mother may not be able to support the father. This places the father at risk for depression himself. Parental depression has been shown to be a major contributor to social, emotional and behavioral difficulties in children. This study aims to gain a greater understanding of the father’s experience of maternal postpartum depression through qualitative research. An interview was held with a father whose wife experienced a severe form of PPD. The themes that were identified were those of helplessness, frustration with not being able to fix the problem, his wife becoming a different person, fear and an altered marital relationship. The father expressed that he experienced depressive symptoms as well. The findings of this interview lend to the case that perinatal programs need to focus on both mothers and fathers and that universal screening along with early intervention may reduce the impact of postnatal depression on the family as a whole.