What about dads?
Becoming a new parent can be overwhelming and sometimes difficult to cope with. Recent research suggests about 10 per cent of new fathers become depressed in the first year after the birth of their child, this is twice the amount of men suffering general depression. The right of a father suffering from depression after the birth of a child is greater if they have had a history of depression previously and is most common in first time fathers.
Why might fathers suffer depression? The increased responsibility of becoming a father can feel extremely daunting, not only are there the existing demands of work but also the increased pressure to earn more while your partner isn’t working. On top of this is the knowledge that at home all is not well.
When a woman is suffering with PND the whole family is affected. Dads have reported a whole range of responses to the situation including fear, anger, and most often helplessness – they just don’t know how to make things better.
A sufferer of PND can often suffer a degree of detachment from their child and or their partner if mum ignores her PND, refuses treatment the impact on her family is considerable.
Due to the extreme stress of having a baby, the first year after baby is born has the highest rate of divorce than at any other time during a marriage. Women often feel overwhelmed and feel that their partner isn’t supporting them, doesn’t understand them or isn’t as helpful as they could be. PND is extremely debilitating for a woman and the man is often left to care of the new baby, his wife, himself and the house with little to no support at all. This has a huge impact on his state of mind and can impact his ability to sleep which then impacts his ability to function effectively.
The more a father takes responsibility for caring for the baby the more a mother is likely to take a step back and distance herself from that responsibility. Although helping support mum is very important it is advisable to continue to include her and work as a team, this will stop dad feeling overwhelmed, stop mum feeling excluded, useless, worthless and will also help maintain a bond between mum and baby.
If the new mother is suffering from postnatal depression dads feel confused, they can’t understand why she doesn’t feel the elation that everyone expect or that he himself feels. He may try to help as best he can but his efforts make little to no difference and he must leave the house each day knowing that his loved ones will struggle alone until he returns. This confusion and powerless feeling can in turn increase the risk of depression in the father.
For both parents the transition from 2 – 3 is great, the attention you once had for each other is now split 3 ways. Your social life will dissipate and can lead to a sense of isolation. Tiredness can become all consuming.
Dads suffering from depression are less likely to interact with their baby or spending time doing such things are reading, playing with or bathing baby.
Other symptoms may include:
- anger, hostility or irritability.
- feeling low or down
- poor concentration
- loss of appetite
- insomnia or trouble staying asleep
- a sense of foreboding
Don’t try to ignore these feelings and soldier on ask for help. You can email us for information on local resources or if you would prefer contact one of the dads organisation listed on our resources page.
Don’t resort to drink, drugs or burying yourself in work in an attempt to cope this will do more harm than good in the long run. Looking after yourself is as vital to your family as their well being is to you. If you are having problems with time management try to break your day down into smaller chucks, write a to do list of achievable tasks and slowly go about crossing them off. Do not over do it or overwhelm yourself.
Your recovery will be far quicker if you can acknowledge the problem and seek a help.
Other links and resources can be found within the resources and information section of this website.