Being Dad Health

Postnatal depression in fathers: the signs and how to help

Postnatal depression
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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Postnatal depression in fathers is grossly overlooked. We look at the signs and how to help fathers suffering from it.

Postnatal depression (PND) among mothers is increasingly spoken of in the news, in TV soaps and in talk shows.

Nervous beginnings

However, it is not often mentioned as something that affects men as well. Of course, it is normal for men to be nervous about the birth their child, especially if it’s their first; but sometimes it may be difficult to recognise the strain this causes them internally.

Why might a dad suffer from this?

New fathers may feel side-lined, with all the attention being on the mother. But there are many pressures that can result in fathers suffering from PND. According to the parental charity NCT, there are two main causes of paternal depression. It can arise from financial pressures, as the costs of having a baby are constantly increasing. So too are the societal pressures of what parents need to be providing for their new-borns. A father who is unprepared for the birth of a child may suddenly feel the the unexpected pressure of feeding a new mouth.

Being a young father may also contribute to PND. It can affect a person who feels worried, incompetent or unprepared. And it can combine to make someone suffer from anxiety and subsequently depression. Anxiety often makes you feel lonely, and make it difficult to face social situations, but worst of all, it can prevent you from having the strength to seek help.

But how common is it? According to NHS, one in ten women suffer from PND. Yet one in every three fathers are concerned with their mental health after becoming a father.

Common symptoms of PND include:
  • Feeling low and losing hope, feeling tired or lethargic
  • Feeling like you are unable to cope, and feeling guilty about this
  • Having obsessive or irrational thoughts
  • Unable to bond or love your child
  • Having difficulties in concentrating
  • Having an excessive need to cry frequently or constantly

PND can hugely affect your personal relationships, as any depression can. The most important thing to remember is that if you notice someone experiencing PND symptoms, support the individual and encourage them to seek help.

Seeking help does not necessarily mean counselling – though it is an option. But just talking to the person who is suffering can go a long way. Often, all people need to know is that there is someone that they can talk to, and that help is available.

To read more about this visit the NCT website here.