Dads & Postnatal Depression
Many of us know that depression related to pregnancy and birth can affect mothers, but it’s important to remember that fathers are at risk as well.
Depression can start in pregnancy and in Australia up to 9 per cent of pregnant women experience antenatal depression. About 16 per cent of all new mothers (that’s about 1 in 7), and 5 up to 10 per cent of fathers develop postnatal depression within the first year after having a baby. Anxiety conditions are likely to be at least as common in men.
For Dads, postnatal depression is most commonly occurs in the period 3-6 months after the birth and there is a positive correlation with maternal depression (i.e. it’s more likely to occur in dads if the mother is also experiencing depression).
As a man, there might be days during your partner’s pregnancy or in the postnatal period when you feel flat, down or irritable. These kinds of changes are normal. But emotional changes that last longer than two weeks and get in the way of your daily life could be a sign of depression.
Common physical signs might include:
• Lack of appetite
• Trouble sleeping, or sleeping and waking at unusual times
• Weight loss or gain.
Changes in emotions and moods can also be signs of antenatal and postnatal depression.
For example, you might feel:
• Guilty or ashamed
• Cranky, anxious and angry
• Isolated or disconnected from your partner, friends or family
• Unable to enjoy things you used to find fun or pleasurable
• Relationship difficulties
• Changes in relationship with partner, which can lead to feelings of resentment and exclusion
You might have changes in thinking.
For example, you might:
• Be unable to concentrate or remember things
• Have trouble making decisions or doing everyday tasks
• Working constantly
• Concerns about productivity and functioning at work
• Increased anger and conflict with others
• Have thoughts of being overwhelmed, out of control or like you can’t cope
• Think about death or suicide.
You might also have changes in behaviour.
For example, you might:
• Not be interested in sex
• Withdraw from your family or want to spend more time at work
• Use drugs or alcohol as a way of handling the depression.
Statistics show that depression and anxiety may be more common for those dads and mums who:
• Have been depressed before
• Mum is suffering from postnatal anxiety or depression
• Have less practical, emotional or social support
• Feel the burden of financial stress
• Experience a difficult birth
• Have current or past experiences with drugs or alcohol
• Have a sick baby
• Have major life and relationship difficulties, past and present
• Find the reality of parenting is different from their expectations.
If you, or your partner, is experiencing depression or anxiety, it’s important to get professional help sooner rather than later.
Here are things you can do to start the recovery process:
• Talk with your partner, family and friends about what you’re going through.
• Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636 Call PANDA on 1300 726 306 or MensLine on 1300 789 978.
• Speak to your GP.
• Go to your local community health centre. • Contact your local mental health services.
Source: Beyond Blue & Raising Children Network