Postpartum Blues Made Me Violent, Says Broadway Producer

PHOTO: Eric Nederlander leaves Manhattan Criminal Court in Manhattan, Jan. 12, 2012.
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Eric Nederlander, a Broadway producer with a history of disputes with the women in his life, claims that postpartum depression caused him to act violently against his wife.

Lindsey Kupferman, his second wife, got a restraining order against him for violent behavior in 2008, and he claims in divorce papers obtained by The New York Post that he suffered from the baby blues after the birth of their daughter Mira.

Nederlander, 46, was first married to Jerry Seinfeld's wife Jessica Sklar. After their Italian honeymoon, and barely a month after they wed, she asked for a divorce after reportedly meeting the comedian at a New York City gym. The Seinfelds have been married since 1999.

Nederlander wed Kupferman in 2004, in a ceremony that ended with a fireworks display that would foreshadow their marriage.

He allegedly threatened to "smash" Kupferman's face when she was nursing their 1-month-old daughter and tore apart baby announcements after raging over credit card bills, according to the Post.

Later, he explained his actions in an e-mail to Kupferman, saying "male post-partum depression is probably something I'm going through," according documents obtained by the Post.

Male postpartum depression is "absolutely a legitimate condition -- there is no doubt about that," said psychologist Will Courtenay of Oakland, Calif., who is known as "The Men's Doc."

But, he warned, it is no excuse for violence -- in fact, he said, men already prone to outbursts are at greater risk for postpartum depression.

The blues can come out in irritability and anger, as well as physical aggression and lack of impulse control, according to Courtenay.

"A lot of men don't act on it, but have fears of hurting their babies or partners," he said. "Some men do act on those feelings."

Kupferman, who is a psychologist, filed for divorce at the end of 2007, according to her lawyer at the time, Robert G. Smith.

Smith told ABCNews.com that he was "unauthorized" to speak about the case, but confirmed that Nederlander had been accused of domestic violence and the divorce is still pending.

At the time, Smith said that the judge had signed a protection order "based upon a finding of danger to person or property and domestic violence."

A 2010 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 14 percent of American men experience postpartum depression after the birth of a child.

Courtenay, who specializes in treating males, said his own research found that 1 in 4 men suffer from the post-baby blues, most often in the three-to-four-month period after birth.

He said the JAMA had looked at 43 "very good studies" that were large and population based.

Post-Baby Depression Affects Men, Too

Doctors suspect that the condition is partially hormonal and may be triggered by lack of sleep. Men also have fewer support systems to fight off the depression.

"During pregnancy and after the child is born, a man's hormones change dramatically -- it's sort of a double whammy," Courtenay said. "Not only does testosterone go down, but the estrogen levels go up."

At the same time, men experience increased prolactin levels, the hormone in pregnant women and nursing mothers, up until the baby is 1 year old.

Though researchers don't fully understand why this happens, he said they suspect it's "nature's way of helping fathers bond with babies."

Neurological changes caused by lack of sleep can also play a role in men's behavior after the birth of a child, according to Courtenay.

"A normally healthy adult goes without good night's sleep for a month and they begin to show signs of clinical depression," he said. "So the lack of sleep, combined with hormonal changes and can create a perfect storm."

But men don't handle the stress as well as their female counterparts, he said. "They are more likely to avoid, deny, distract or drink alcohol or take drugs in response to depression and anxiety ... that only compounds the problems unless they have healthy coping strategies."

Men have fewer friends and social networks and rely on them less, according to Courtenay. "They primarily rely on their spouse or female partner as primary support."

And if the woman is having difficulty with the same things, depression can escalate.

In Nederlander's case, he was accused of abusing Kupferman, which he denied at the time. His lawyer, Bernard Clair, did not return calls from ABCNews.com.

A judge granted a protection order for Kupferman in February 2008.

More recently, Nederlander was jailed for a day for allegedly pushing his 31-year-old girlfriend Nancy Okun's face into a taxi cab divider window last summer and yanking her hair to wake her in the middle of night. A hearing is set for April 2, according to the Post.

ABC attempted to obtain the court documents from the Manhattan Supreme Court to learn more, but was told by the court clerk that matrimonial records are sealed for 100 years.

Only Nederlander or Kupferman could have released the documents and only by giving their permission "in writing," according to the clerk,

Kupferman's current divorce lawyer, Bonnie Rabin, refused to comment, except to say, "For sure, that was not us."

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