Postpartum & Antenatal Depression in Dads
New fathers suffer from postpartum (A.K.A postnatal) depression, too, and often overlook taking care of their own mental health after the birth of their child.
You're taking care of a growing family, a pregnant wife and now a new mother that is learning to cope with the added pressure of taking care of a new human. Then there are the frequent visits from loving friends and family, the pressure to return to work, especially if paternity leave is not commonplace at your company. Also, your partner that used to pay attention to you, is now solely focused on the child. You may be feeling unsupported, forgotten about, exhausted and not like yourself.
All of this pressure can build up and leaving you feeling lost, irritable and depressed.
Studies show that up to one in ten men experience depression after the birth of their child, or even during their partner’s pregnancy. While it is the mother than carries the baby and experiences the largest hormonal and chemical shift in her body that may result in her depression, men suffer, too.
There is no need to suffer in silence.
What are paternal postpartum depression (PPD) and “the baby blues” for men?
It is a type of depressive illness that can be experienced by both sets of parents after the birth of their child. While new mothers are urged to seek help for their mental health after labor, this serious issue is often ignored for men.
Could you be depressed? Symptoms of postpartum depression for fathers.
Similar to the symptoms of clinical depression, the way that this illness manifests in new fathers can include the following symptoms:
- Lack of hobbies or interests in activities and family life
- Lack of interest in sex
- Low energy levels, and low self esteem
- Over-working and avoiding spending time at home
- Aggression, irritability, a short fuse or quick temper, and potentially violent behavior
- Overeating or poor appetite
- Excessive sleeping or difficulty sleeping, prolonged tiredness
- Lack of energy and motivation
- Feeling sad and let down in life
- A sense of hopelessness with nothing to look forward to
- Increased risky behavior, such as the abuse of alcohol and drugs
- Poor or little self-esteem and being self-critical
- Avoidance of social activities
- Limited focus and concentration levels
While studies for PPD lag behind studies on female antenatal depression, it is shown that the onset of depression for men can take up to a year after the birth of their child, while for women the onset of 'baby blues' is usually quicker, potentially starting just a few weeks after birth. Here are additional signs of depression.
Throughout your depressive episode, symptoms may increase and decrease in severity. If not dealt with in a timely manner, symptoms may inflame into a major depressive episode that may result in the new father being unable to manage his day-to-day life and responsibilities. Antenatal depression in dads, how to deal with it?
Managing your increased levels of stress and responsibility are especially important at this time. Do not be fearful of your feelings, as not feeling 100% your self and feeling low on energy as a new parent is completely normal. Speak to your close friends and family, and especially other new fathers that you know about what you are going through. Likely, some of them (if not all) have experienced the same issues and would be willing to open up about their pain. You never know until you start sharing!
Other ways of coping with your emotions and anxieties at this time include:
- Prioritizing fitness & physical activities. Although leaving the house at this time is especially hard, you can look into doing at home exercises that do not require equipment when you have a few minutes to yourself.
- Breathing and other relaxation practices. Your body can go without food for a week, without water for a day, but only a few minutes without breathing. Try taking ten deep breaths in a row, counting 4 seconds for each in-breath and exhalation to quickly reset yourself.
- Meditation and mindful practices. No longer just for the New Age community, such techniques have been practiced for thousands of years to help people relax, feel more balanced and less stressed. It’s now easier than ever to learn from courses being offered in cities, through mobile applications and plenty of free tutorials are offered online.
- Seeking professional help. There is no shame in speaking to a professional—many other fathers in your position have benefited from the advice, support and skills that they’ve learned from working with an experienced therapist. If you are simply too busy to visit a therapist face-to-face for counseling, you can save yourself time by trying out online therapy where you speak to your therapist remotely from any location, including your home or office.
- Click this for more tips and services for postpartum depression for dads. And for more advice on general anxiety management click here.
Your depression can also impact your family.
Your pain may be also impacting those close to you. While it is of utmost importance that you focus on your own well-being at this time, check-in on how your attitude and presence is impacting those around you. Perhaps your baby’s mother is also suffering at this time—have you asked her or talked about your feelings?
- Here are signs of postpartum depression in mothers.
- This article will help both new mothers and father work through new stresses as a growing family.
If you’re in need of, and open to speaking to an expert, note that many therapists offer a free, obligation-free inquiry session. No judgments passed.
Many professionals offer free initial sessions. If you’re looking to consult with a provider on RingMD, check to see if they offer a free session in the “packages” section of their profile or send them a direct message through the chat function on the platform.
If it feels like you don’t have control of your new life, and you're thinking "I need a therapist near me" but don't know where to start, try the RingMD therapist directory below. We will help you find the right therapist for YOU!