Postnatal depression in women is becoming more recognised. Although the problem often starts in pregnancy, it can takes months to be recognised after birth, when it affects the mother’s ability to care for her newborn. What is poorly recognised is that around 1 in 8 men also suffer depression at this time. The highest risk falling between three and six months post birth.
The symptoms include loss of appetite, insomnia, difficulty bonding with the baby, feelings of shame or inadequacy, loss of interest in activities, irrirability and low mood. While most people experience some of these symptoms after a new baby arrives, they pass. When they persist for two weeks or more and are not balanced by positive emotions, this can be a pointer to depression.
Hormones change in men too after birth with falls in testosterone and a rise in oestrogen. This may play a role. It has also been shown that depression in the mother is a risk factor for depression in the father.
The first step in recognising there is a problem (which men are not good at!) and asking for help. Have a chat with your doctor.
For many, some basic couple or personal counselling fixes things; even chatting with a mate or joining a support group may be all that is needed. If medication is a likely answer your doctor will advise.
Preventative measures include attending anti natal classes so you are better prepared to being a new father. Also dealing with any relationship issues before birth will help um and did. It is also important to allocate a little “me” time. This can be as simple as a walk in the park listening to music or doing a meditation.
For help visit: www.panda.org.au/practical-information/information-for-men