Men suffer from postnatal depression too

The idea of a man in every male-dominated society seems to be based on a fragile concept of masculinity. The portrayal of a man as a stoic who must never accept help at the cost of his vigor and strength has dominated generations, leaving men vulnerable to emotional outbursts and mental illnesses ignored by the rest.

A study, titled “Dads in distress: Many new fathers are worried about their mental health,” by the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) revealed that one in three fathers are concerned about their mental health. Of those surveyed, 73 percent confessed to feeling stressed owing to their partner’s poor mental condition.

Stressing on the fact that today’s society is witnessing a role reversal in modern day families with men taking over the responsibility of child care, Dr. Sarah McMullen, head of research, National Childbirth Trust, said, “Men are much more involved both in attending the birth, for example, compared to many years ago and much more involved as dads in the early weeks and months of their baby’s life. This means that they are experiencing the challenges of relationship changes and the financial strain – just like mothers do.”

Fathers and postnatal depression

Postnatal depression is a feeling of anxiety that arises after a child is born and can be seen in both men and women, opposed to the age-old belief that this form of depression exhibits its symptoms in women only.

A combination of environmental factors, pressure of parenthood, fatigue, among others, may contribute to this condition of anxiety wherein new dads are seen worrying a lot and find it hard to keep their feelings of restlessness at bay.

They also exhibit symptoms of having trouble in sleeping, relaxing and are severely depressed. Disclosing the fact that he himself had suffered from postnatal depression after his first child was born, Mark Williams, founder, Dads Matter U.K., said, “There are all sorts of reasons why men suffer mental health problems after the birth of a child. Some suffer from postnatal depression themselves whilst others get downcast because their partners have mental health troubles. I suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after seeing my wife’s distressing birth.”

Reasons for postnatal depression in fathers

Though researchers have not been able to come up with any possible reason as to why only some new dads suffer from depression, there are reasons that may be held responsible for the same. Lack of sleep, additional financial responsibility, sudden change in lifestyle, partner’s poor health, postnatal depressions in partners, increased workload at home, along with a change in relationships, fuel emotions of gloom and despondency and affect the mental health of a new dad.

The symptoms of postnatal depression in new dads are, in many ways, similar to those manifestations which women go through in their period of unhappiness and sorrow. Men suffering from postnatal depression display:

  • Feelings of lethargy and tiredness;
  • An empty feeling of being inadequate and inability to cope with fatherhood;
  • Emotions of irritability;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Difficulty in sleeping;
  • Attitude of hostility towards partner or the baby;
  • Difficulty in concentration;
  • Indecisive behavior;
  • Complaining about constant headaches;
  • Incessant obsession about the baby or partner’s health;
  • Suicidal thoughts.

Way to recovery

It is important to discard the stiff upper lip attitude when it comes to sharing feelings of unrelenting and ceaseless phases of misery and pessimism. Depression is not about a temporary phase of sadness, but a continual sensation of something dark along with a loss of interest in day-to-day activities.

Postnatal depression affects the peace of a family, and if not treated, it can ruin relationships and affect the productivity at the work place, giving way to indulging in risky behaviors as drug or alcohol addiction. If you or your loved one is suffering from any mental illness, you may call our 24/7 helpline at 855-653-8178 or log on to 247 Mental Health Helpline for further information.