Paternal Postpartum Depression

Men can also suffer from PND: Research has found up to 10% of first-time fathers experience postnatal depression and an Australian researcher Karina Bria says most fathers are left to battle their paternity blues alone. It is more common among men who have been depressed before or whose partners are depressed. Having a new baby is a huge change for fathers, involving exhaustion and extra worries. It can be particularly difficult to balance the demands of work and fatherhood, especially if you feel under pressure to earn more while your partner is unable to work. Part of this change will be in your relationship with your partner. For both of you, the focus of attention will have shifted and this can feel like a loss as well as a gain and so bring unexpected feelings of anger or sadness.

The symptoms can include:

  • feeling very low, for example not enjoying anything
  • poor concentration
  • poor appetite
  • worrying, particularly at night and irritability
  • anxiety and tenseness
  • irritability, anger and aggressiveness
  • loss of libido
  • risk taking behaviour
  • withdrawal and isolation from others
  • increased work hours
  • increased drug or alcohol use
  • Fathers may see the future in a bleak way and feel that things are unlikely to ever be the same again or get better.

    Treatment:

    Get professional help. Like PND, PPD affects the whole family. Research has shown that dads with PPD are less able to support their partner and this can affect how she feels about looking after the baby. Dads who are suffering from depression are also less likely to engage with their children in ways that later result in increased vocabulary like reading, singing songs, telling stories. Boys are twice as likely to have emotional and behavioural problems is their father suffered depression when they were babies. Speak to your G.P. or see a counsellor so these things can be prevented.

    Use Self-help strategies. Make time for yourself, increase social supports, talk about it with your partner, family, mates, your trainer or physiotherapist, you may be surprised how common it is. Maintain important hobbies/activities and get regular exercise. Improve your relationship with your partner.

    Get involved with the baby. Fathers who feel confident (and supported) finding their own ways of caring for baby have a strong connection with them - and are much less likely to get depressed.

    Disclaimer: The information in this web-site is of a general nature and starting point only and not meant as sufficient advice for individual problems. For personal concerns about yourself, partner or child, please seek support from a professional counsellor or health practitioner. With respect, the author does not take responsibility for the effects of your use of this information.© E. Taylor 2011

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