As many as 1 in 10 dads are affected with post natal depression. It's time to talk about men's mental health
New dads can become depressed for many of the same reasons as mums can - feeling overwhelmed, the responsibility, financial pressure, tiredness and if mum suffers from PND too. Of fathers with depressed partners, 24% to 50% experience depression themselves.
It can be easy to just focus on mum, and although they aren’t the ones giving birth physically, it is also a completely new experience for men. Many dads feel helpless at the start and some worry about bonding with their baby. Unfortunately, even in this day and age, men can sometimes still be perceived to ‘just grin and bear it’ or ‘man up’, a saying I particularly detest. It can be extra hard for men when mum has postnatal depression, as when she is suffering, dad can be unable to support himself and his own mental health.
Many dads feel helpless at the start and some worry about bonding with their baby.
Common symptoms in men can include:
fear, confusion, helplessness and uncertainty about the future
withdrawal from family life, work and social situations
frustration, irritability, cynicism and anger
negative parenting behaviours
alcohol and drug use
physical symptoms like indigestion, changes in appetite and weight, diarrhoea, constipation, headaches, toothaches and nausea.
Men struggle to ask for help more than women, so it can go undiagnosed.
As a woman and a mother, I rely on my support network for so much. Not just my husband and immediate family, but my close group of ‘mummy’ friends. The thought of not feeling comfortable or able to talk to my network about my feelings or struggles, fills me with great sadness for dads.
So dads, if you are feeling low and feel like you want to try and figure your feelings out on your own first, then here are a few self help strategies -
Go to bed early. You need to rest. Sounds like an obvious one but you would be surprised how many sleep deprived parents still stay up late.
Eat well. Low blood sugar levels can really affect mood changes and anxiety so try and keep a well balanced diet. Avoid too much sugar and alcohol as they can make your depression and anxiety worse.
Accept help. Ask your partner for time outside of being a dad, she will understand. She needs the break too.
Treat yourself. Simple things like retail therapy or watching the footie (now it’s back) while the other watches baby then alternate.
Exercise. A simple thing like taking a walk can help clear anxiety or stress. It releases endorphins which help improve your mood. My husband relies on running to keep his sanity.
Have realistic expectations. You have a healthy baby, you are already doing an amazing job. Try not to put pressure on yourself.
Keep a diary. Writing down all your fears and worries can really help release any inner rage or sadness, it helps to clear the mind.
Focus on the positive. Be kind to yourself and do not overcommit. Family and friends will understand.
Talk. It is so important to try and talk to someone. You could speak to a counsellor, your GP, a health visitor, support groups or family & friends.
Please know that if it all feels a bit too much then I really encourage you to speak to your GP or one of the amazing organisations listed below -
0207 386 0868
020 8519 2122
0300 330 0700
Also it’s great to hear from other dads just like you, going through the same as you. So if you can, I really recommend you follow these Instagram accounts -
Paul - themultidad
Really funny and honest about dad life and having 3 children, including twins.
James - the_honest_dad_
It’s all in the name. Very honest account of fatherhood and also loss.
Ben - thediaryofadad
A really hilarious and insightful account about being a dad.
Matt - manverusbaby
Hilarious account about being a dad.
Simon - father_of_daughters
Talks a lot about mental health and jokes about being completely outnumbered.
Dads you are not alone, your friends with children are going through it too and us mums especially think you’re awesome!!
Find out more about Sleep by Alexandra
Sleep by Alexandra helps your family sleep better so you can enjoy more time together. Alexandra Collingbourne is a sleep consultant specialising in safe, holistic methods of getting your baby, toddler or young child to sleep in a way that empowers parents to live better, happier and with more energy. Specialist postnatal depression & anxiety support is also available for those who need it.
● View baby and toddler sleep services from Sleep by Alexandra here
● Get in touch here
● Subscribe to newsletter here