The reality TV star shares his battle with postpartum depression as a father

A reality TV star’s decision to open up about his experience as a new parent is shedding light on a lesser-known topic, postpartum depression in fathers.

Leroy Garrett, a contestant on “The Challenge: All Stars,” shared in an episode that he struggled with his mental health after the birth of his son Kingston Lee nearly two years ago.

Garrett and fiancée Kam Williams, also a contestant on the Paramount+ show, share Kingston Lee, 23 months, and a 9-week-old daughter named Aria.

“My son has been one of the biggest blessings in my life, but when he came out, I was scared,” Garrett said on the show. “I’m not trying to be perfect, but when I’m dead and gone, I want to be able to say I did a great job with my son. All that weight was just on my shoulders. To be a great father?”

He continued: “I wasn’t happy and I couldn’t describe why I felt that way.”

Leroy Garrett and Kam Williams appear in “The Challenge: All Stars” on Paramount+.

Jonne Roriz/Paramount+

Garrett said that after opening up to Williams, he began receiving mental health counseling, which he said helped him “build tools” to cope.

In a later interview alongside Williams, Garrett opened up about postpartum depression, noting that it was a condition that he previously “didn’t even know men could suffer from.”

Feelings of postpartum depression can be intense and longer-lasting compared to the “baby blues,” which occurs after having a baby, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The condition is common among women, with about 1 in 8 women experiencing postpartum depression after giving birth, according to the CDC.

Although postpartum depression in fathers is less publicly known, it is still common, with around 1 in 10 fathers suffering from it, according to research.

Leroy Garrett appears in “The Challenge: All Stars” on Paramount+.

Jonne Roriz/Paramount+

After Garrett, who did not respond to a request for comment, opened up about her own battle with postpartum depression, her fiancee said she was glad she had opened up about her feelings.

“I’m so happy about it [Garrett] he communicated it to me. Because usually with men, they always have to hide their feelings and you just have to be tough and strong,” she said on “The Challenge.” “And we definitely had that vulnerable moment throughout our relationship, which I think just it makes us even stronger.”

What to know about postpartum depression in parents

Dr. Sheehan Fisher, a perinatal clinical psychologist who focuses on the mental health of fathers, said a high-profile figure like Garrett speaking out about his experience with postpartum depression can help normalize it for men, just as postpartum depression was normalized. when women spoke publicly.

“Now it’s just as important for us to understand that men are vulnerable to depression and anxiety and other types of mental illness during the perinatal period at an increased rate,” Fisher, also an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg. School of Medicine, he told “Good Morning America.”

Men are at highest risk for postpartum depression three to six months after the birth of their child, but it can start as early as after conception, according to Fisher.

The term perinatal mood and anxiety disorder, or PMAD, which covers pregnancy and postpartum and a range of conditions including anxiety and depression, is also used to categorize struggles mental health issues that new mothers and fathers may experience.

Why some parents are affected by postpartum depression comes down to a mix of biological, environmental and genetic factors, according to Fisher.

“Men, just like moms, are going through a life transition that’s brand new for them, but it’s unique for dads right now because they don’t really have a plan for how to be a parent,” he said. “Today’s fathers are much more involved than their predecessors in family and child rearing while doing similar levels of work outside the home, so they are trying to balance that adjustment along with the accompanying stressors.”

Biologically, Fisher said research has shown that men’s testosterone levels change during the perinatal period, which can be associated with changes in mood.

And genetically, if a man has a predisposed genetic risk for depression or anxiety, this can be triggered by the stressors of new parenthood, according to Fisher.

New fathers, she noted, are often not screened for perinatal mood and anxiety disorder in the same way as new mothers. In addition, Fisher said that men may have different symptoms of depression and anxiety that go undetected, meaning PMAD rates among men may be underestimated.

“One of the problems is that traditional measures of depression have a gender bias that doesn’t really capture how men experience and respond behaviorally to depression,” Fisher said. “Maybe you have a parent who won’t say, ‘I’ve been crying,’ or ‘I’ve been sad,’ but they might say, ‘I’ve become more irritable lately,’ or ‘I’m hypersexual.’

Other symptoms of postpartum depression in men, according to Fisher, can include behavioral changes such as isolation, appearing depressed or withdrawn, not finding pleasure in normal activities, aggression and having difficulty functioning at work and at home.

Research has shown that a parent’s mental health can affect not only him and his partner, but also the physical and mental health of his child.

Fisher said the most important thing for men should be that they are not alone.

“There’s a whole community of parents who are dealing with a similar experience,” he said.

If you are experiencing suicidal, substance use, or other mental health crises, call or text 988. Trained crisis counselors are available for free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also go to or dial the current toll-free number 800-273-8255 [TALK].

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