Postnatal depression in dads
What causes postnatal depression among dads?
How does postnatal depression affect relationships?
Treatment for postnatal depression
A study by the Medical Research Council in 2010 found that one in 28 dads experienced depression in the first year after the birth of their child.
The increased pressures of fatherhood and associated responsibility, financial pressures and change in lifestyle, as well as changes in relationships, combined with a lack of sleep and increased workload at home, can all play a part in a new dad’s mental wellbeing.
There are two factors that do appear to have a significant impact on dads experiencing PND:
- Strained relationship with partner
- Partner experiencing postnatal depression
Other factors that are likely to influence a new dad experiencing depression are:
- Age – younger dads can experience higher rates of anxiety and depression.
- Finance - new dads who are on a low-income are also particularly vulnerable to depression.
As with mums, a new dad’s own personality, social factors, family history and past mental health history can also affect his chance of developing depression.
Encouraging mums to support dads in their parenting choices and style may also be helpful. Dads who feel supported by their partners in finding their own ways of caring for their baby are likely to develop a strong connection to their babies and are also unlikely to develop depression.
It may be difficult, upsetting and frustrating to live with someone who has PND, but it's important not to blame them for how they are feeling and to avoid being judgemental.
Perhaps the most important thing to recognise is that someone suffering from PND may need encouragement to seek help, and support to get it. Help them find someone to talk to and reassure them that they will feel better.
- Recognise that you may sometimes feel down or low about being a parent.
- Allow time for yourself, away from work and family.
- Make sure to talk to your partner, family and friends about how you are feeling.
- Focus on the enjoyable aspects of parenting.
- Try to maintain any important hobbies or social events.
It is also important to avoid negative coping strategies, such as drinking too much or working too hard and staying away from home.
There are a range of approaches for treating PND which include:
- Counselling and therapy
There may be fewer specialist services for men in dealing with postnatal depression but your GP should be able to provide you with any information you need to help make a choice that feels right for you. Some people respond better to one method rather than another.
Talk about it with your GP, or other specialist services and organisations, such as: Mind (in England and Wales), Well Scotland or Niamh (in Northern Ireland). Details for contacting these organisations can be found at the end of this page.
New dads might also find it useful to talk to other new dads for support and advice on coping with parenthood
Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.
MIND, a leading mental health charity, has information on postnatal depression, and provides a contact number you can call if you need further help: 0300 123 3393.
The Fatherhood Institute, a think-tank specialising in fatherhood, posts its latest research summary on fathers and postnatal depression.