When a new baby comes into the world, a lot of things can happen, and a lot of things can change.
Typically, much of the attention goes to the new baby and the mother as they navigate their place in the world and adjust to the profound life changes that occur. There are many things to love and admire about bringing a new life into the world, and just like mother’s change, so do dads. Sometimes, that change is challenging and you might need some extra support.
Postnatal depression and anxiety statistics (PANDA)
1 in 5 mothers will experience perinatal depression and anxiety – a statistic that society is pouring resources into remedying. But one statistic that we may be less aware of is that 1 in 10 fathers/partners will also experience perinatal depression and anxiety. If we dive even deeper, 1 in 2 new dads are also more likely to be diagnosed with postnatal depression if the mother has already been diagnosed.
Symptoms of dads with postnatal depression
It’s important to keep an eye out for common symptoms of postnatal depression in men so you can address it and seek support early. Being able to recognise the signs in yourself and your partner can make all the difference to your relationship with each other and your child. Some of these symptoms might include:
- Anxiety or fear of looking after your baby
- Changes in appetite
- Problems sleeping (that are not related to your baby’s sleep patterns)
- Withdrawing emotionally from your partner
- Ongoing fatigue and/or exhaustion
- Reduced libido
- Feelings of resentment, frustration, and/or irritability
- Feelings of isolation and loneliness
- Thoughts of self-harm and/or suicide
- Turning to alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism
- Headaches, tension, and high stress
- Losing interest in activities that you usually enjoy
Reasons why dads might develop postnatal depression and anxiety
Attitudes towards new dads and mental health is one of the societal issues that has been painfully slow to progress. It’s common to hear comments such as, “what do you have to be sad about?” and, “you’re not the one doing the hard stuff.” When in reality, there can be many reasons for PNDA in dads such as:
A traumatic or difficult birthing experience
There can be a lot of anxiety and fear around the birthing experience, especially if things don’t go to plan and there are difficulties.
Having difficulty adjusting to parenthood
Becoming a parent is a lifechanging event that not everyone adjusts to easily.
Stress about life circumstances such as money
Many dads feel the weight of responsibility when it comes to providing for their new family and this can cause a lot of additional stress.
Loss of quality sleep and quality time with your partner
A lack of sleep can make anyone irritable at the best of times, and not having the same level of emotional and physical access to your partner can make you feel lonely and disconnected.
A lack of emotional support around you
Not having someone or a group of people you can lean on for emotional support might leave you feeling like you’re going through things alone.
Relationship problems or breakdowns
The change in roles within your relationship can put extra strain on any underlying relationship issues.
Previous history of depression and/or anxiety
Being prone to depression and/or anxiety might increase your likelihood of experiencing PNDA.
Counselling and support for dads
Seeking counselling and support for PNDA can be a huge step towards feeling better and moving towards a happier experience as a parent.
Happy Minds Psychology in Geelong is a clinic dedicated to creating a nurturing and compassionate space for parents to access professional support for PNDA and other pre-and-postnatal challenges.