Postpartum Depression in Men

Mums are in the spotlight after pregnancy, and rightly so. But their partners need love and support too!

While partners don’t experience the physical transformation of pregnancy, their lifestyles do change considerably. Whether it’s sleep deprivation, money worries, new responsibilities, or the relationship dynamic shifting, dads also have a lot to take on board.

To that end, here are some things to keep in mind regarding postnatal depression in new fathers.

  1. New dads are twice as likely to experience depression than the general population.  
  2. Postnatal depression in men is often undiagnosed

Postnatal depression in men peaks three to six months after birth.

Thus the symptoms are often mischaracterised as the stress associated with raising a child.

We all feel stressed from time to time, but if the feeling persists for days on end, it might be time to get help.

A bad day or two is normal, a bad week is not. 

If you’re worried about your partner’s mental health, get in touch with your GP and they can connect you with relevant resources and support services.

  1. Hormonal changes can play a role

Our mood is heavily influenced by our biology. The changes in testosterone, oestrogen, cortisol, vasopressin, and prolactin levels that childbirth brings can, therefore, greatly affect dad’s mood.

If you’re experiencing postnatal depression, the likelihood that your partner is too jumps. 24% to 50% of fathers with depressed partners experience depression themselves.

  1. Know Your Risks

Certain dads are more susceptible to postpartum depression than others. Those under 25, for instance, are more likely to experience it than their older counterparts.

A history of depression and anxiety, financial difficulty, and divorce are also big risk factors.

  1. Look Out for These Symptoms

Symptoms can include:

  • fear, confusion, helplessness and uncertainty about the future
  • withdrawal from family life, work and social situations
  • indecisiveness
  • frustration, irritability, cynicism and anger
  • marital conflict
  • partner violence
  • negative parenting behaviours
  • alcohol and drug use
  • insomnia
  • physical symptoms like indigestion, changes in appetite and weight, diarrhoea, constipation, headaches, toothaches and nausea.
  1. Postnatal depression in dads can have an impact on the development of their child

No man is an island. Dad’s struggles can cause emotional, social and behavioural problems in their children and impact their development. It is important for the whole family that Dad’s low mood is addressed, and appropriate treatment and support is sought.

  1. Screening is available

Concerned about you or your spouse’s mental health? Call your GP.