Some three to ten per cent of men suffer from depression during the periods before and after the birth of their child. A lot of people believe that men have postnatal depression — referred to as PND – because of or corresponding to the depression of their partner.
However, men can go through this separately from their spouses or partners. Though this kind of feeling in mothers is the greatest indicator of their partner also having it, it does not happen in this way all the time.
It has been discovered that this depression in men who have just become fathers starts before the child’s birth, and the recovery is very little by the time the first year ends.
Evidence has also been found that indicates that depression in men goes up in the six-week to six-month period post childbirth. In one report three of 10 men were found to be depressed at six weeks, and the depression worsened in the following six months. New evidence also suggests that feelings of anxiety could be a crisis for a few men in pre and post birth periods.
New fathers cannot get access to kind of services that their partner or spouse gets. They generally don’t see a doctor or a maternal or nurse or midwife who deals with child health care, and this is where dilemmas are often noted.
It’s imperative that this depression is recognized in men in the same way as it is in women and gets early and effective treatment. In this way, long-term consequences on the mental health of the father, and the relations he has with his near ones which include his family, that is his partner or spouse, his children and his friends, can be averted.
What Contributes to PND in Fathers
Read more about Men and Pospartum Depression
Like all types of depression, a broad range of factors that may be physical or relate to emotions and social factors may contribute to the progress of PND in fathers.
Some of these factors are common to both men and women.These may include:
- very little emotional and social backing;
- personality features;
- alterations in the relationship of the couple and stress;
- loss of sleep;
- issues relating to grief and losses;
- difficulty in making adjustments to the alterations brought about by the shift to parenthood;
- prenatal expectations that are not fulfilled;
- a birth experience that is negative and/or traumatic.
The following factors are men-specific and may include:
- the effect of the changed social role for the father in the family;
- attitudes pertaining to masculinity and the fact of becoming a father – men are less inclined to speak aloud their feelings, they feel it’s important that they seem to be coping;
- change in the forces that control family life – some males could feel they are being left out of the role of parenting or the relationship that they share with their spouse/partner, which lead to their being resentful to the baby;
- worries pertaining to additional responsibilities;
- financial worries and managing work stress;
- worries about sexual expectations being unmet at the start of the postnatal time;
- early pregnancy in particular, this seems to be a period of highest- stress for a man on the way to fatherhood;
- this might happen due to changes in his spouse’s/ partner’s body, how his feelings towards the support he is getting are, worry about immediate changes in his lifestyle, and feelings of vagueness about what he must do to show caring for his spouse or partner;
- his lack of chances to bond with the child until the birth, unlike the mothers, who start bonding with the to-be born baby during pregnancy itself.
Some men feel the effects of PND along with those of their partner’s. Studies have revealed shown that both mother’s and father’s depression are correlated. Men say that their spouse’s/partner’s PND is unsettling to their life and the couple’s relationship. Fathers may experience fear, helplessness and confusion and a feeling of inability to help the mother get over her depression.
Some documented risk factors in paternal PND include:
- the PND experience of the man’s partner;
- previous or pre-pregnancy incidents of depression in partner;
- problems relating to marital life;
- having a poor opinion of oneself;
- feelings of being incompetent in the role of a parent;
- becoming a father for the first time; irritability relating to new-born children.
Some men may not be able to notice any PND risk issues they have personally but will suffer from PND anyway. Men belonging to all ages or kinds of personality and of various economic strata may suffer from PND.
Symptoms of male PND include:
- fatigue, pain and headaches;
- feelings of being isolated or disconnected from partner or other family members and friends;
- feelings of losing control and the inability to cope;
- loss of sexual and food appetites;
- increase in risk-taking;
- sleep disorders;
- withdrawal from close relationships with family members and friends and people in the community; increase in the number of hours of work relating to the disconnect with the family;
- increasing drugs/alcohol usage as an alternative to getting treated for the depression.
It must be noted that that paternal PND is not yet recognized by the psychiatric community. It is believed that a few symptoms of male PND are akin to those found in female PND, but it’s also assumed that male PND is more unpredictable and changeable compared to PND in women.
Men can seek help for this disorder from relatives, peer groups and social bodies that deal with this problem. Advice and treatment from a doctor or psychiatrist is also helpful. This must be done because the development of the children may get affected due to paternal PND. It can have clear and negative effects that last for long periods, if the symptoms are not treated for a long time.
Research has revealed that PND depression in males is related to poor social/emotional behavior in children aged three, especially in boys, even if the mother is not PND-positive. Men who have this kind of depression may also not like to read books to their kids or play with them.
The first step is to accept that there is a problem if you feel some of the above symptoms and after you should go to see the doctor immediately.