Postnatal depression can affect men. Pregnancy and the birth of a new baby can be stressful for both parents. Some men feel the pressure linked to becoming a father is too much to cope with. Sometimes coping with a partner who has PND can lead to the father becoming depressed as well. Remember that these feelings may not surface immediately. They can develop up to year after the baby is born.
It’s important for you to be familiar with the symptoms of PND, know what it feels like and how to get help for both yourself and your partner.
Common symptoms to look out for:
- negative feelings, e.g. guilt, loneliness
- panic attacks
- irrational behaviour
- lack of appetite
- disrupted sleep patterns
- Lack of concentration
For some people the feelings are quite mild, for others they are overwhelming.
If you feel you have more than one or two of these symptoms it is important to seek help.
Impact of postnatal depression
Whether it’s you or your partner experiencing PND, it can affect your relationship and the relationships you have with other family members. It could also affect your social life and employment.
It can also have an impact on your baby and any other children in the family.
If your mood is low you may spend less time talking and interacting with your baby. This interaction is important for brain development and for your baby to feel secure and loved.
Leaving PND untreated can be harmful so the first step is to get help quickly.
What do you do if you think you have PND?
Many fathers and mothers can feel embarrassed or ashamed of these feelings. Some people feel it is a sign of weakness or of not being able to cope. They can find it difficult to talk about being depressed and may try to hide the symptoms. However the sooner you get help, the sooner you will recover. The treatment for men is much the same as it is for women.
Try talking about it
- You might not find it easy to talk about it but you may need professional help. Start by speaking to your GP, health visitor or an organisation such as Breathing Space. If you find it difficult to explain to other people how you feel, try writing down your feelings beforehand so you are offered the most appropriate support.
- If you need to speak to someone when your GP surgery is closed, you can contact NHS 24 on 0845 24 24 24.
- Try talking to your partner and friends and family – don’t bottle things up. They might be able to offer extra help and it will help them to understand if you don’t seem to be yourself.
- Your GP may prescribe antidepressants or they may feel another treatment would be of more help and refer you to another service.
Counselling and psychotherapy
- More in-depth counselling or therapy may be required. Your health visitor or GP will explain what this involves and will help you decide if this is for you
- Find time to do things that can help you relax and improve your mood. Help yourself wind down with some physical activity. Being active can lift your mood and make you feel better. Try to stop smoking, cut down on alcohol and avoid stressful situations to maintain a healthy lifestyle.