The arrival of a new baby into the family is a wonderful, exciting time for many new mothers and fathers, and for those already with children. Introducing a new baby into the household is not without its challenges. For the majority of parents, it is a time of major adjustment and/or difficulty which is relatively short-lived.
However, sometimes the challenges that come with a newborn baby in the first year can be very distressing and lead to ongoing, intense low mood or sadness (depression).
Post-natal depression (PND) refers to depression that arises in the twelve months following the birth of a child. Despite the fact that approximately 1 in 7* women suffer from post-natal depression after childbirth, it is very important to remember that it is not uncommon for men to suffer from PND.
There are a number of factors surrounding the life of a new father that can put him at risk of post-natal depression. These factors include (but are not limited to):
- having suffered depression in the past
- your baby was born prematurely or with health complications
- your relationship with your partner is under strain
- you and your partner are under financial stress
- you have little hands-on and/or emotional support from family and friends
The signs and symptoms of post-natal depression in men can vary from person to person. In this article we will discuss some of the most common signs and symptoms of PND in fathers.
Post Natal Depression In Dads – Signs And Symptoms
Ongoing Sadness Or Low Mood
Men suffering from post-natal depression often find themselves feeling blue and crying regularly (or often feeling close to tears). You may feel hopeless, empty or numb and experience reduced joy in your partner, baby, or hobbies and activities that previously brought you great pleasure. As a result, you may feel guilty, discouraged and/or unmotivated.
Constantly Feeling Overwhelmed And/Or Worried
It is normal to feel overwhelmed by all the changes that introducing a newborn into the world brings, however, sufferers from PND often feel constantly overwhelmed and worried. These worries can be in regard to one self, the health of their partner or new baby, or related to things such as work or financial pressures, or perhaps everything combined.
You may feel inadequate or like you are lacking control of your life and that you cannot cope with all your responsibilities. This can be particularly difficult for males who are often stereotyped as having to ‘toughen up’ and ‘always be in control’.
Common physical symptoms of PND in men include headaches, fatigue and difficulty sleeping (such as problems regarding getting off to sleep, staying asleep or getting enough quality sleep). Other physical symptoms may include a change in appetite (which can result in either weight loss or gain), and digestion issues such as constipation or diarrhoea.
Social Disconnect Or Isolation
Men suffering from post-natal depression often feel disconnected from their friends and family. Ongoing feelings of low mood or sadness can cause us to ‘crawl into our shell’ and shut off from the rest of the world. You may even find yourself working constantly or putting in longer days as a means of withdrawing from your family and/or friends.
Many fathers feel ashamed about their post-natal depression. However, despite how you may feel, PND in men is not uncommon and is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Talking about how you are feeling with a close friend or family member is a great starting point for getting the support you need. It is important to remember too that sometimes when we least feel like it, spending time with our favourite people can be some of the ‘best medicine of all’.
Irritability And Anger
Raising a baby is a challenging time for any parent; however, fathers suffering from PND often feel frustrated, cranky, irritable and easily stressed. You may have a ‘short fuse’ and overreact to people or situations without thinking them through first, which can result in conflict with others. You may find yourself behaving in a hostile manner towards your partner or baby (without meaning to do so).
The inability to think clearly or concentrate properly is a very common symptom in men suffering from post-natal depression. This can be caused by or further amplified by a lack of sleep (an extremely common situation experienced by parents of newborns). You may find you struggle to make even the simplest of decisions, have difficulty remembering things or have trouble going about day-to-day tasks.
If you are a (new) dad and find yourself struggling in the first year following the birth of your child, you may be suffering from post-natal depression, and should seek professional help in order to get you back to feeling yourself. Get in touch with Brain Wellness Spa today, and a member of our professional team can help you to manage and recover from your postnatal depression, and get you back to loving life with your family.