Postnatal depression is commonly associated with women, but research shows that it affects men almost as much, with some studies estimating that up to 10% of fathers experience it. Despite this, there is a lack of information available about postnatal depression in men, which can make it difficult to recognize and seek help. This article will provide an overview of what postnatal depression is, why it happens, its symptoms, and how to seek support.

Causes and Symptoms

Contrary to popular belief, postnatal depression is not solely caused by hormonal changes. Rather, it is typically a combination of risk factors, such as a history of depression, sleep problems after the baby is born, lack of social support, or financial challenges. Postnatal depression can also occur at any age.

Symptoms of postnatal depression are similar to those of depression in general, including low mood, lack of motivation, poor sleep, feeling guilty or worthless, poor concentration, changes in appetite or weight, fatigue, and thoughts of death or suicide. The key difference is that these feelings tend to happen in the postnatal period, typically within the first year after the baby is born.

Seeking Help

While it is normal to experience some degree of mental health struggles after having a baby, if symptoms persist for more than a few weeks and are affecting your ability to bond with your infant, seeking help is crucial. Postnatal depression is unlikely to go away on its own, and it can have long-term effects on both the father’s mental health and his relationship with his child.

It is important to remember that seeking help is not a sign of weakness or failure. Acknowledging that postnatal depression is a difficult thing to talk about is a good starting point. When speaking to someone, it is important to be honest about how you are feeling and not feel pressured to say what you think you should say.

While some fathers may find it easier to speak with a doctor or in online chat groups, others may prefer to talk in a less formal setting, such as with friends while watching sports. Mental health apps like DadPad can also be helpful for those who find it easier to communicate through technology. It is essential to find a method of communication that feels comfortable and effective.

Postnatal depression is a real and common condition that affects fathers as well as mothers. It is caused by a combination of risk factors and can have long-term effects on mental health and the parent-child relationship. Seeking help is crucial, and there are various methods of communication and support available. It is essential to remember that seeking help is not a sign of weakness or failure, and acknowledging the difficulty of talking about postnatal depression is a good starting point.

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