Dads Get Postnatal Depression Too

Written by Jana Angeles 

Just because you’re a dad doesn’t mean you have to hide away your emotions and toughen up. Gone are the days where you expect males to have it together because let’s face it, we’re all human and we’re allowed to feel. It’s tough to carry on certain expectations and it’s no surprise that dads can get postnatal depression (PND) too.  

Even during pregnancy, men are prone to feeling heightened emotions. You also have to accept the mood changes your partner will experience in the term of her pregnancy. There’s no step-by-step guide when it comes to the pregnancy journey; some people can’t cope with the changes that come with it, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing. To get to the root of the problem, we have to face it together. 

What changes will I experience when my partner is pregnant?  

It’s an exciting time to celebrate the news of the pregnancy: congratulations! However, it’s normal to feel anxious about everything when you continue the journey with your partner. There’s so much to look forward to but there’s also stress that comes with it too. It’s important to remember that no pregnancy journey is the same and unexpected things can happen. 

Obviously, you have to sacrifice more time to be with your partner when it comes to medical appointments and consultation. You also have to be there when your partner is feeling emotional about their pregnancy term. All these factors can contribute to postnatal depression. It can be an overwhelming experience for some dads. 

What signs do I need to look out for PND? 

1 in 10 males experience depression before (antenatal depression) or after (PND) the birth of a baby. If you experience any of these signs mentioned below, please seek help from your GP immediately. 

Physical Signs to look for: 

  • Fatigue 
  • Frequency of pain or headaches 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Irregular sleep 
  • Weight loss or gain 

Emotional Signs to look for: 

  • Feelings of sadness 
  • Feelings of shame or guilt 
  • Anger or anxiety 
  • Withdrawal from family and friends 
  • Overwhelmed  
  • Not being able to enjoy activities you used to find fun 

Other signs: 

  • Substance abuse (drugs or alcohol) 
  • Loss of concentration 
  • Overworking attitude (preference of staying at work more instead of staying at home with family) 
  • Taking risks 
  • Not interested in sex 
  • Having trouble making a decision  

How Can I Cope? 

Talk to someone  

It helps to have a conversation with a loved one about feeling depressed. We understand it’s never easy to fully express how we feel and sometimes we may think we’re burdening others with our problems. Just remember a lot of people do care about you and if you’re feeling depressed, talking to someone helps. If you’re uncomfortable sharing your thoughts and feelings to someone you know, you can always call these hotlines to speak with a counsellor: PANDA 1300 726 306 or MensLine 1300 789 978. 

Start the recovery process with your GP  

Even if you feel like you can cure depression on your own, it’s advised to speak to your local GP if you show symptoms of PND. Starting treatment early is important because you can get the right help instantly and be on the road to recovery faster. Don’t put off any chance of getting help. Learn to recognise symptoms of PND early and take initiative. 

Let your family, friends and work know about your situation  

It’s important to let your family, friends and colleagues know about your situation. Keep them updated on how you’re doing and consistently follow-up about appointments, taking leave from work and where you’ll be. Remember they care and are only looking out for you.