New research from Sweden shows that, over the past 10 years, a significant number of fathers have struggled with their mental health during early parenthood.
The study of 447 Swedish fathers found that 28% of men had symptoms that scored above mild levels of depression. 4% had moderate depression and fewer than one in five fathers who were depressed sought help.
Why men might feel depressed after their baby is born
New dads can become depressed for many of the same reasons as new mums:
- Extra responsibility
- Change to routine and lifestyle
- Financial pressure
- Stress on the relationship
- If his partner is also suffering from postnatal depression.
'From the fun of your previous party lifestyle to parental responsibility and the deja vu of another sleepless night and another shitty nappy. It’s a time that you can feel empty and drained.'Daddy Poppins. Read more 'From Lad to Dad'...
Becoming a parent is life changing and this can be very unsettling.
What are the symptoms of paternal depression?
- Feeling sad and hopeless.
- Constant exhaustion or numbness.
- Not wanting to do anything.
- Feeling unable to cope.
- Feeling guilty for not being happy or for not coping.
- Worrying that you don’t love your baby enough.
- Being easily irritated.
- Crying or wanting to cry more than usual.
- Not wanting to eat or being unable to eat.
- Binge eating.
- Finding it difficult to sleep.
- Lack of interest in your partner and/or baby.
- Anxiety and/or panic attacks.
- Finding it difficult to make decisions.
- Having worrying thoughts about harming yourself or your baby.
- Thinking about death.
"My feelings, or should I say lack of feelings, didn’t present themselves all at once. They crept up on me slowly, affecting how I felt until reaching the point were I broke down."
Tony, The PND Daddy. Read more 'Whose Baby am I Holding?'...
These symptoms can come on gradually or all at once. If you feel that something isn’t right, even if it’s not on this list, you should talk to someone about it.
When to get help
While it is normal to feel tired and anxious as a new parent, if you’ve been feeling really down and it’s getting too much then it is probably time to talk.
Realising you need help is one thing, but we know that telling someone else and getting that help can be really hard. No one will think you are weak for asking for support if you need it.
"I had already hit rock bottom I couldn’t go any further down, I had nothing to lose by trying to get help. Surely things could only get better."
Tony, The PND Daddy. Read more 'Things Can Only Get Better'...
Where can dads go for support with depression?
Try your GP or one of the dedicated mental health organisations and support groups such as:
PANDAS Dads have a private Facebook support group to help dads going through and anxiety and/or those who are supporting their partner with perinatal mental illness.
Day or night, Samaritans are there if you need to talk. Call them on 116 123.
SMS4dads gives dads information and connects them to online services by text. As well as this, every three weeks you get an interactive ‘How’s it going?” message. Give it a try.
"Don’t carry the weight of fatherhood (or anything else for that matter) on your shoulders. Talk to a mate. Get on the internet and do it anonymously if you want. There’s a huge dad community out there."
Daddy Poppins. Read more 'From Lad to Dad'...
How is paternal depression treated?
There are a few treatment options for PND:
- Talking therapies and counselling
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
- Support groups
- Medication such as antidepressants
Everyone is different so you’ll need to find the treatment that best suits you. Your GP should be able to help you figure this out.
"I now knew there was no magic pill, no quick fix to get better. No one could wave that magic wand and instantly make me better. If I truly wanted to get better it was time I took some action and helped myself."
Tony, The PND Daddy. Read more 'Little Steps, Big Results'...
Mind have some great suggestions about how to look after yourself if you’re experiencing paternal depression, including:
- Keeping active
- Getting some rest
- Having some time to yourself
- Managing daily tasks one at a time
- Taking things slowly.
We know this is easier said than done with a newborn around so make sure you accept help from friends and family who offer. You can’t do it all, no one expects you to and your loved ones will want to lend a hand.
"If you need help after having a child or any other time just reach out and ask. A lot of people suffer in silence... Until you speak up it might not be obvious to others that you are struggling."
Daddy Poppins. Read more 'From Lad to Dad'...