Post-Natal Depression In Men
By Jodie Hill – Employment Lawyer
Recognising post-natal depression in men
It’s recognised that between 10% and 15% of women develop postpartum depression within a year of childbirth, but did you know that 1 in 10 dads also suffer from postnatal depression, or paternal depression?
Research from NCT has found that 1 in 3 new fathers are concerned about their mental health, and the most common time for men to suffer from postnatal depression is between 3 and 6 months after their baby is born.
But why should men be affected in this way?
Traditionally postnatal depression has been associated mainly with women for obvious reasons – women carry the baby for 9 months, deliver the baby and have all of the associated changes to deal with including changes in the body and hormones.
The two factors that appear to have the most significant impact on fathers suffering postnatal depression are:
- A strained relationship with their partner throughout the pregnancy;
- Where the father’s partner is experiencing postnatal depression.
Other changes in the father’s life which are also thought to contribute are:
- A greater feeling of responsibility for the family finances, particularly if there is the loss of the woman’s income;
- Lack of sleep whilst also maintaining the day job;
- Increased workload at home;
- Changes in relationships within the home, including feeling excluded from the bond between the mother and baby.
A family history of depression may also mean that a man is more likely to experience postnatal depression.
Symptoms vary from person to person, but could include having no or very little relief from some of the following symptoms over a 2 week period:
- Socialising less and avoiding friends;
- Change in appetite (usually eating less);
- Unexplained aches and pains;
- Feeling anxious or worried;
- Not doing well at work;
- Lack of energy;
- Sleep problems.
Typically men find it difficult to talk about their feelings which can lead to them being less likely to ask for help when it’s needed; suicide is also much higher in men than women, hence it is very important that support is sought as soon as possible.
If you think you may have postnatal depression (whether a man or a woman) you could:
- Try to share your feelings with people you trust – this could be your family or friends, a health professional or a counsellor, you can self refer to IAPT using this link here: https://www.leedscommunityhealthcare.nhs.uk/iapt/home/ or via Touchstone here: https://www.touchstonesupport.org.uk/ .
- For more support or contact a charity such a MIND or Workplace Leeds who can off support and guidance http://www.leedsmind.org.uk/ they also hold group and one to one classes to support people suffering with their mental health ;
- Try to take some time for yourself by maintaining involvement in hobbies, exercise, or social activities – although this isn’t easy after the arrival of a baby, even an hour here or there can make a difference;
- For men; meet other new dads. Dads groups are becoming more and more common as a place for men to share their thoughts and experiences of becoming a parent with their peers;
- For mums, make sure you attend the mums and babies group, surround your self with people in the same boat as you.
- Take some exercise each day, like a walk with the buggy or swimming. Exercise can have a positive effect on mood and sense of wellbeing;
- Avoid negative coping strategies, such as drinking too much or working too hard and staying away from home – sharing your thoughts and feelings, as hard as that might feel, is probably the best thing you can do;
- Seek help from your GP who can tell you about the support services available.
If you do seek support, the range of treatment includes counselling and therapy, medication, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and attendance at accredited peer support groups.
Recognising that you or somebody you know might be experiencing postnatal depression is difficult and seeking help can be even harder, however no new parent should feel embarrassed or ashamed about feeling low or depressed, or that they can’t talk about it. The sooner help is sought the quicker the symptoms can be treated and alleviated.
#PNDHour is an online peer support group that runs every Wednesday at 8pm via the Twitter account @PNDandMe. Anyone can join in to discuss topics about antenatal and postnatal depression, such as self-care, medication and seeking help. It’s run by a mum called Rosey who also blogs about her own experiences with antenatal and postnatal depression, as well as raising awareness of perinatal mental illness, at PND and me.
We also discuss at #MMBhour on a Wednesday from 8pm to 9pm so please get in touch if you have any questions on this or any of our other blogs.