Depression and anxiety after birth, commonly known as postnatal depression, is well known. What isn’t so widely acknowledged, however, is that it’s not just mum who is at risk of postnatal depression.
Dads can get postnatal depression too! In fact, according to advocacy group Postpartum Support International, in the US, one in ten new dads can experience some form of depression during pregnancy or in the early days of fatherhood, and these rates are broadly reflected all over the developed world.1
What causes postnatal depression in dads and partners
Naturally, having a child causes a huge upheaval to your life and sometimes people can find these seismic changes difficult to cope with. In many ways it can be like grieving with parents yearning for their old, carefree lives. Other potential causes of depression and anxiety could be worries about changes to your relationship with your partner, or even post-traumatic stress following a particularly challenging labour.
The added difficulty when it comes to dad’s postnatal depression is that men are inherently less likely to talk about their inner most feelings due to societal expectations and stigmas. To add fuel to the fire, new fathers just don’t have access to the sort of support network that new mothers do. They don’t tend to see their doctor as much and don’t have a midwife or health nurse watching over them. It’s also worth mentioning that if your partner is suffering from depression, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, you are more likely to experience it too!2 Not ideal as you have a baby to think about during all this.
What are the symptoms of postnatal depression?
- Loss of libido
- Change of appetite
- Feelings of being overwhelmed or isolated
- Feeling withdrawn
- Increased risk taking
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Physical manifestations such as weight loss, headaches, nausea etc.
I’m feeling low. What should I do?
Speak to someone, be it a doctor, your partner a friend. This is the 21st century and you shouldn’t be ashamed of how you’re feeling in this day and age. If you’re concerned, call your GP or NHS 111.
Alternatively, in the first instance, contact us via our Careline. Having someone else to talk to can be very reassuring. Our team can also point you in the direction of someone who can help. Remember, you don’t have to face this alone.
Father of 2
Living in Budapest with his wife and two children, Gareth is a freelance writer, creative strategist, film maker and author of the ‘The Budanest’, a book about his experience of fatherhood. He gives us insight into parenthood from a partner's perspective: all views and opinions given are his own, taken from his personal experiences.