The birth of a child can be emotionally challenging for both parents. While it is widely recognised that women struggle with post natal depression and are often overwhelmed by sleepless nights and fussy babies, research shows that fathers may also struggle with post natal depression . In fact, one study in the UK suggested that as many as 1 in 3 fathers were concerned about their mental health . In Australia, about one in twenty fathers are diagnosed with depression during their partner’s pregnancy or in the year following his baby’s birth, with symptoms most concerning between six weeks and six months after the baby’s birth.
While men may not always be directly affected by 2 hourly feeds, sleepless nights and fussy babies, fathers do feel affected by the changing roles in the family, the increased financial demands and worries about extra responsibilities being placed on them. In many cases, dads experience PND alongside their partner. However, they can also suffer depression independently of their partner.
What can I do if I am concerned about my mental health or my partner’s mental health following the birth of our child?
- While men can often feel uncomfortable about talking about their feelings, it is necessary to seek assistance and support as soon as possible. Find friends and family that you trust to confide in and, if possible, seek psychology support
- The added demands of having a baby sometimes leave people feeling they have no time for themselves. However, it is important that you and your partner still find time to do things that help you both relax and take your mind off every day challenges.
- Trying to allocate even a few minutes a day or an hour a week to hobbies or activities you both enjoy or find relaxing. This might involve one of your caring or monitoring the baby during that time, or it might involve taking the baby with you