New Dads Struggle Silently with Postpartum Depression

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Nearly one in eight women who give birth will experience some type of perinatal mood disorder like postpartum depression or anxiety according to the Centers for Disease Control. Nearly half of those women’s husbands are likely to experience symptoms too.

Andy Haberkamp is the father of two young children and admits stepping into the role of fatherhood wasn’t easy.

“It’s not really real until the baby shows up,” he says. Haberkamp remembers about three weeks after the birth of his oldest child, Cecila, then again before his son George was born, he spiraled into a deep depression.

“It was really hard to focus. I wanted to be alone,” he recalls. ” I got into a low place and it wasn’t easy to get through the days a lot of days.”

Depression is something Haberkamp has dealt with for years but his wife Kara says this time was different. His depression began to have a negative impact on the family. Kara describes, “Cecila would be crawling around the floor and he would be looking at his phone like the whole time and I would say ‘hey’ pay attention to your daughter, and at some point, he said he wasn`t okay and he talked to someone about it.”

Feelings of isolation, detachment, struggling to adjust are all signs of a perinatal mood disorder, more commonly known as postpartum depression according to the mental health experts. They say both women and men are susceptible to anxiety or depression during pregnancy and up to a year after the baby is born.

“There are hormonal shifts in men as well. All humans have hormones. There is this idea that hormones are reserved for women which is completely false,” says licensed mental health counselor, Amanda Hardy. She specializes in perinatal mood disorders often times treating couples who are having trouble coping with parenthood.

“When the system, the family is struggling everyone is more likely to suffer,” she says.

Research shows about one in 10 dads struggle but the majority go diagnosed. Hardy believes that due to stigmatized mental health.

“That’s a space we need to continue to work in. A male’s relationship with your child, yourself and your partner is a space in our culture we need to make room for men for.”

Experts say the best way for men to work through their postpartum mood disorders is to talk about it. Haberkamp recently wrapped up his second round of intense group therapy with plans on continuing to get more help. He says the treatment was a step in the right direction towards becoming a better dad.

“You have to get inside yourself and open yourself up and get those things out there. I just can’t deal with stuff inside my own head, that`s not healthy for me.”

In the Des Moines metro, there are several resources and groups for mothers dealing with postpartum depression but Channel 13 was unable to find any specific resources for men. Local mental health experts are leading a charge for struggling dads to start up their own groups.

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