Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Post-natal Depression - For Dads

This BBC article about father’s suffering from post-natal depression (PND)caught my eye.

My pregnancy/parenting books and updates warned about the signs of PND I might experience as a new mother, but they never said anything about dad’s feeling low. In fact, I maybe naively, never really thought much about how post-natal depression might affect fathers until recent news like this started making headlines.

The emotional / physical / logistical pressures of becoming a mother are pretty well documented but why don’t we talk more openly about the stresses heaped on new dads? Depression can be a taboo topic to discuss, but getting the risk factors, triggers and symptoms more out in the open will surely help tackle the Fatherhood Institute’s worrying statistic that one out of every 10 fathers are depressed both before and after their baby is born.

Dad’s may not bear and birth the baby but becoming their parent will instigate some tricky life shifts. They might feel increased financial pressure. Or feelings of isolation, jealously and then regret as everyone fusses over their partner and child. Or frustration at a compromised emotional and sexual relationship during sleep deprived weeks. They might just want someone to pay their feelings more attention, which may confuse them all the more as, *sweeping generalisation*, men by and large don’t seem as comfortable “outing” their demons and feelings as women.

Fatherhood is exciting, wonderful, challenging.....but new dads need not be stoic about the pressures they face. When I think about our early days with LLC I remember that both Chris and I had our frustrations and we still do. But as a couple, we like to hash things out and I think this helps us sort them out. And while I never dwelled on PND and fortunately neither of us suffered from it, I perhaps should have known the signs for men and more proactively checked up on Chris’ mental health. And for couples that don’t as actively discuss their “issues,” is PND even more likely to be swept under the rug until it trips up one or all of the family?

Knowledge could be preventative, support can be part of a cure; do you think more needs to be done to educate men and women alike about PND in fathers?
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