While postnatal depression in mothers gets more attention these days, we can’t forget that dad’s can experience postnatal depression as well. This is an even less known fact.
It’s estimated that more around 10 per cent of men suffer depression following the birth of their child.
Whether it’s sleep deprivation, money worries, new responsibilities, or the relationship dynamic shifting, dads also have a lot to take on board. This is a huge life change for both parents. On top of this, dads might feel guilty about what their partner is going through, knowing they aren’t the ones breastfeeding at 3am or healing from labour and birth.
What causes postnatal depression in men?
The adjustment to family life and the pressures of learning to raise a child can be overwhelming and stressful for fathers, no matter their circumstances. These issues are exacerbated by lack of sleep and less time to relax.
Postnatal depression may be more common in dads who have:
- limited practical, emotional or social support
- a history of mental health issues
- had a difficult pregnancy
- a sick baby
- found the reality of parenting different from their expectations
- had major life and relationship difficulties
- financial stress
- current or previous issues with alcohol or drugs.
Like mums who experience the illness, dads may also experience hormonal changes. Hormones including testosterone, oestrogen, cortisol, vasopressin, and prolactin may change in dads during the period after their babies arrive.
Despite the high rate, postnatal depression among men is often undiagnosed, as its symptoms appear similar to the everyday stress that comes with caring for a newborn.
Postnatal depression in dads can show itself in different ways
Symptoms can include:
- fear, confusion, helplessness and uncertainty about the future
- withdrawal from family life, work and social situations
- frustration, irritability, cynicism and anger
- marital conflict
- partner violence
- negative parenting behaviours
- alcohol and drug use
- physical symptoms like indigestion, changes in appetite and weight, diarrhoea, constipation, headaches, toothaches and nausea.
Go and get help!
The most important thing is – you are not alone. You are not weak. But you do need to go and get some help. The sooner you will get help, the earlier you can be there for your family better.
To find out if you have hormonal issues and if you live in Europe, you can order a hormone test to do at home. https://censa.de/speicheltests-fuer-maenner/ and you can find therapists to help you here: https://hormonselbsthilfe.de/fachkraftfinden/
For coaching and counselling you can try finding a therapist where you live or you can contact Flavie who is a life coach who speaks English, French and German. https://www.herzenshand.de (unpaid advertising)
So please don’t suffer in silence. There is help out there!