Postnatal depression is a common condition that affects new mums the world over. Fluctuating hormones, new responsibilities, and changes in the family dynamic are all stressors that can lead to feelings of sadness and anxiety. What most people don’t realise, however, is that new dads can suffer from PND as well. While postnatal depression is well-documented in women, it is estimated that as many as 1 in 10 men are also affected. Let’s take a look at this oft-overlooked condition.
A New Perspective on Postnatal Depression: PND in Men
The symptoms of postnatal depression in men are generally the same as symptoms in women and include anxiety, loss of interest in activities, lack of sex drive, extreme sadness, inability to bond with baby, and appetite and sleep changes. While causes of postnatal depression vary, some common factors include increased financial strain, problems with a significant other, changes in familial structure, and increased responsibility. Men with partners experiencing postnatal depression are also more likely to experience symptoms themselves.
If you and your partner are both experiencing postnatal depression, it may be helpful to tackle the problem together. Parenting groups can provide much-needed support, as can schema therapy. Talk with your partner to discuss treatment options that you are both comfortable with. Alternatively, if you are the only one experiencing symptoms, these options can be utilised alone as well. A new dad group can connect you with other fathers going through similar situations. Don’t be afraid to reach out!
It is important to note that mild to moderate symptoms lasting about two weeks after birth is considered normal and will resolve on their own. If symptoms are present weeks, or even months after the baby is born, it may be time to talk to your doctor for a diagnosis of postnatal depression.
If you are a woman whose partner is exhibiting symptoms of PND, a gentle conversation may be in order. Express to your partner that you understand his feelings and are there to support him. Emotional changes in men after the arrival of a baby should not be dismissed or ignored. Your partner may feel that his feelings are not valid or warranted, and he needs to know that you are in his corner.
Regardless of gender, postnatal depression is a condition that can be overcome with the right combination of schema or alternative therapy, support, and sometimes medication. If you or someone you know is suffering from symptoms of PND, help is available so that you and your family can get back on track and enjoy your growing family.