If there is one thing that is not talked about enough in men, it is mental health. Men are brought up to be tough and robust. Brought up to not cry. To not show too much emotion, lest they are accused of not being manly enough. Men are brought up to remain strong and stoic at all times, supporting their women and children and never relenting on the pressure of it all.
And then we wonder why male suicide rates are so high.
For example, did you know that there is such a thing as post-partum depression? Sure, you do. It’s everywhere. Every hospital labor ward and maternity packet has information for a new mother on postpartum depression. However, did you know that men can develop postpartum depression, too?
Believe it or not, men can develop depression after a baby has been born in the same way a new mother can. Sure, there are less postpartum hormones rushing through their bodies, but as with any significant life change, it is very real. It’s very easy to focus on new mothers when they bring home a baby, watching for signs of “sinking” into sadness and issues caring for their new baby. But when it comes to a new dad? We should not forget about him. A new baby is a massive life change for both parents, which means that both parents need equal support. There are money worries, new responsibilities and sleep deprivation to contend with, along with the fact that many new fathers often feel useless in those initial early days of breastfeeding and burping.
Along with all of these emotions and new experiences, new dads often feel guilty because they cannot take the pain or pressure away from their partner. Ensuring a new father doesn’t sink to the depths of depression in the post-baby fog, it’s essential to recognize that they need more support than a pizza delivery and time to buy new Transformers games at Wheel Jack’s Lab. Let’s take a look at everything that you need to know about postnatal depression in men and how you can help yourself out of it.
Depression Can Develop in The First Year
Just like women, postnatal depression in men can develop up to the first 12 months of their new baby’s life. First-time dads are a vulnerable bunch, and one in ten fathers can even become depressed during pregnancy. It’s important to realize that it’s not a weakness to feel this way; it’s the pressure of all the new things to come that makes the difference.
Men Are Often Overlooked
The stress of a newborn can often mean that new mothers are swamped, and family members are concentrating on her and the baby. This is how men quietly slip into the background, so postnatal depression often goes undiagnosed. Of course, a new mother needs every support possible, but that doesn’t mean that new fathers should be ignored. If you have any worries or concerns about your mental health, you should discuss it with your doctor, and they can help you to recognize the right service to get some help.
There Are A Lot of Factors That Count
New fathers who are young ones, particularly the under-25s group, are more likely to deal with postnatal depression than their older counterparts. History of depression is also a factor, and then you have the financial pressures and the overall changes that come with being a father. Lack of sleep, trouble at work and a general feeling of fear with how to deal with a new little life all contribute to the development of postnatal depression in a new father.
Symptoms of Postnatal Depression in Men
Postnatal depression in men can present in similar ways to postpartum depression in women. Here are some of the signs that you may experience:
- Fear and confusion
- A feeling of helplessness
- Withdrawal from the family and social situations
- Frustration and quick to temper
- Marital issues
- Violence in the relationship
- Negative parenting behavior
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Digestive issues
The symptoms are many, and they are not easy to cope with, but if you notice any changes in yourself once your new baby is in the world, then you need to seek help as early as possible.
Postnatal depression can often make a new father feel useless, unwanted and a spare part in the family. While these feelings are a symptom of the depression, the result is that they feel the need to lash out in their relationship – and not just physically. Feelings of resentment that go unresolved can take time to play out and the feeling of resentment toward the child that has changed it all grows. Just because you have expected a baby for nine months, doesn’t mean you are ready for the new little life in yours.
What to Do About It
Speak. The very first thing that you should do if you believe that you are suffering from postnatal depression? Speak up. Tell someone – anyone – and ask for help. It’s not weak to feel overwhelmed and defeated. You can learn to distract your mind and fill your time with hobbies and fun that you haven’t done for a while, physical exercise especially. Taking up old hobbies, such as buying and selling old toys, can keep your mind busy and your life full, too.
Postnatal depression in men is not something that people find easy to talk about due to the ingrained stigma that men aren’t supposed to have feelings about anything (yawn). However, this shouldn’t stop you from getting yourself some help. Your partner and your children do need for you to be in the best shape mentally as possible so that you can be a part of the family and learn to love being a father. The key is not to withdraw into yourself and know that you are not alone in how you feel.