Perinatal depression in men
Also known as antenatal and post-natal depression and anxiety in men is extremely under estimated and often goes unrecognised.
10-20% of men are estimated to experience perinatal depression or anxiety.
Antenatal – before bubs is born.
Post-natal – after bubs is born.
Having a child, especially for first time dads, is a time of significant life changes.
The dynamic between the couple shifts, the time available for anything other than family time dramatically decreases and men often find themselves feeling extremely irritable and wondering who they are anymore.
Most men strive to be the rock for their family which places them under immense pressure during this transition. They may also have little time for their mates or hobbies and struggle to cope with the increased financial pressures that relying on one income can bring. Add regular sleep deprivation and the pressure can begin to seem all too much.
Partners or family members often observe that the kind, easy going man experiencing perinatal is often a shell of his former self. Always seemingly grumpy, moody and simply not himself.
Many men who experience perinatal depression don’t feel that instant connection with their child and can sometimes feel incompetent as a father, especially when compared to their partner.
Often they don’t feel that overwhelming feeling of love for their child immediately. This leads to further guilt, anger and frustration, which is all further compounded if a man’s partner is also going through her own perinatal depression.
So what to do?
If you or your partner is experiencing what you suspect is perinatal depression or anxiety, firstly talk to each other.
If for some reason this isn’t possible, make sure you speak to a trusted friend or family member. Blokes, text that good mate and organise to catch up and get it off your chest. You’ll be surprised how much of a difference even talking about it can make. Once you’ve spoken to someone about it, it can be a huge relief.
You’re acknowledging there’s a problem and can begin to look at ways to address it.
Start looking at ways you can begin to re-connect with who you were before the new arrival. This might be hobbies, trips away or simply just starting to see mates again. You probably can’t become as involved in these as you used to be, given family commitments but hopefully after speaking to your partner, you can come to an agreement or compromise how you can fit this in the schedule and make it a priority.
Both parents need a life and outlets outside of work and the family.
And lastly, do not hesitate to seek professional support via a psychologist or start the conversation with your GP and ask for a referral.
Help, support and solutions are available, you just have to take that first step!