While we regularly check in with new Mums, take a moment to also ask how Dad is going! Most people are surprised to know that around 1 in 20 men experience depression during their partner’s pregnancy (antenatal) and up to 1 in 10 new dads struggle with depression following the birth of their baby (postnatal).
Like with many forms of anxiety and depression, men are often reluctant to talk about their feelings - especially when it comes to being a new parent.`Bringing a new child into the World is a scary, emotional and overwhelming time. On top of all of the emotion, a new Dad will often feel they need to hold down the fort because it is a particularly difficult time for new Mothers. As a result of these feelings, if not addressed, it may cause the new Dad to withdraw emotionally from both Mum and Baby. They may feel incapable or scared of looking after the baby alone. They may not bond with the baby. The role of Dad is quite different in the early days. As a baby relies heavily on their Mother for food and support, the Father may feel like he is not needed. As time passes and the baby gets older, if the emotional anxiety or depression is not addressed, it can become worse and can still linger months after baby is born - much in the same way as it does in Women. The difference here is that we commonly look more toward the Mother for signs of post natal depression. We don't often asks the Dads if they are OK.
It is really important for a new or expecting dad to seek support and treatment for how he is feeling as early as possible to help get better as soon as possible. Seeking support might include:
The good news is that there are a lot more community support programs available now to help Dads. Much like a Mother's group, there are many community based New Dad's groups that allow new Fathers to get together and talk about their experiences and their feelings in a safe environment with others who are going through the same thing. It is important that you don't suffer in silence.
PANDA Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia has many resources and a helpline available. Please take the time to check out their website and don't be afraid to reach out: panda.org.au
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