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Can Dads Get Postnatal Depression? Yes, they need support too

Can dads get postnatal depression (PND)?

The first question you may ask about the line above is: is it really true? Do we have any statistic that says this is true or close to true?

Well, yes, Postpartum Depression (PPD) or Postnatal Depression (PND) in Men Is Very Real.

Symptoms and Treatment of PPD in dads

Can dads get postnatal depression?

About 8-10% of men experience depression before or after pregnancy of their partner and child birth. [Ref. Postpartum Depression in Men - PMC - NCBI]

There are many misconceptions especially in this area – many people believe that postnatal depression (PND) in men occurs as an after effect due to the presence of PND in women. But that is far from the truth. There is independent evidence for the presence of PND in men.

It is also fair to say here that when PND is present in mothers, there is a greater likelihood that PND will also occur in fathers.

Emotional poverty and stress along with depression can be observed in new dads even before the child is born. This onset of a depressive phase sometimes begins with the onset of pregnancy. It peaks between six weeks and six months after delivery. Anxiety and stress seem to be the main causes of this situation in men.

In general, acceptance of men suffering from postnatal depression (PND) is low. However, according to experts, there are about 8-10% men who suffer from PND and the disease usually appears within the first year after child birth.

The kind of work that comes with a baby keeps dads in check during the 3 weeks to 6 months after birth. This is the time when they are most susceptible to PND.

Young fathers are more likely to have PND, so if you are in your 20s and have become a father, you are much more likely to have PND than you would be in your 30s when you become a father.

Likewise, first-time fathers are more prone to PND than second-time fathers.

Symptoms of PND in dads

Like any other form of depression, the symptoms of PND vary from person to person. The relationship one has with one's partner is at risk when the partner has PND. You have trouble keeping your balance.
They tend to lose their self-esteem and feel helpless, especially when it comes to their very first child.

Here are some of the symptoms of PND in men:
  • They tend to socialize less and try to skip hanging out with friends.
  • There is a visible change in your appetite. You start eating less.
  • Your body starts to ache in unwanted places.
  • At some point you feel anxious and at some point you are overwhelmed.
  • They begin to have trouble sleeping and no longer feel like being sexually active.
  • Feelings of loneliness and separation from partner, friends or family

Reasons why dads suffer

The world is full of expectations, and most of the time they are imposed by our peers and our situation. Most of the time it takes time, patience and communication skills to find a way out of this suffering based on expectations of oneself.

The feeling of not being able to control the situation is the most frustrating thing for a man who was in control of the situation before the baby arrived. It is the most distressing and confusing condition for newborns to be fathers.

How is PND in men treated?

Now comes the part, how to deal with PND in dads?

If you've tried to do something about the situation through reading or another hobby and it hasn't gotten any better, it's best to see a doctor or your GP. The doctor can do some of the routine tests to rule out other conditions and then help you get over it.

Treating PND can be a staged process and varies from person to person. First, you would be suggested to opt for some self-help methods where you are involved in the following activities:
  1. Online therapy, such as CBT program
  2. Join a local self-help group
  3. Read a self-help book and apply some of the self-help tips it contains.
  4. Join a practice group that can help you take care of the loneliness you are in.

Ultimately, dad needs support too

A newborn baby when it comes home brings a lot of joy but also a lot of strange feelings and emotions. The new parents feel strange and indifferent at seeing themselves in a completely different persona. They are trying to adapt to the new way of life, the next life path. The feeding routines, antenatal and postnatal care, weekly/monthly weight checks, etc. are all there to keep life busy in some way and not supportive.

Fathers are generally asked for full support and understanding, but there is no one to tell them if you need support or how you are feeling in between it all. Fathers should also be given the opportunity to express themselves.

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