A lot of people ask if Dads can suffer from postnatal depression (PND). The answer is absolutely. Approximately one in ten dads suffers from PND which is likely to develop in the first six months following the birth of the child.
Post natal depression in dads though, is not like PND suffered by mums. PND in mums is mainly caused by the rebalancing of hormones, as well as the psychological stresses of carrying a child to term and giving birth.
The primary factors for PND in men are:
• Anxiety about the responsibilities of being a father. This includes self-doubt that they will be a good dad, and the pressure to live up to the same standard of parenting given by his father when growing up. Alternatively, unhappy memories may be triggered from his childhood by the birth of his own child.
• Financial concerns also play an important stress factor for new dads. The prospect of moving down to a single income or working more hours to support the family may be concerning him.
Mens natural unwillingness to discuss their feelings may lead to many cases of PND to go undiagnosed. However there are a number of symptoms that can help indentify PND.
• Does he look exhausted or anxious?
• Is he irritable or easily frustrated?
• Has he taken more interest in the household finances recently?
• Is he struggling to sleep or struggling to get up in the morning?
• Is he spending less time socialising with both friends and family, and spending more time on his own?
If you notice any of the above symptoms it’s best to try and encourage him to talk to you, or one of his friends or family members. Many new dads will find talking to their own father very comforting; after all, they’ve experienced many of the same emotions and may even be able to offer advice or support in some way.
If the symptoms do not dissipate after the first 12 months then you should encourage him to contact his GP who may be able to offer professional help, or medication.