Understanding Perinatal Depression and Anxiety for Dads
Becoming a dad is a unique and special time but is also a time of great change. The stigma surrounding men’s mental health can prevent dads from seeking help, with almost half (43%) of first-time dads believing postnatal depression and anxiety is a sign of weakness1.
Around 10% of dads experience mental health problems in the first year, following the birth of their child and 57% of first-time dads admit to experiencing significantly increased stress levels1.
Over half (56%) of new dads do not seek support during stressful times. Since men are three times more likely to take their own lives2, Gidget Foundation Australia encourages dads who are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or depressed to reach out for help.
“For men, symptoms of perinatal depression and anxiety can present differently than in women, although there are some similarities. They include the inability to enjoy activities like they used to, being less able to concentrate, make decisions or get things done.” (Dr David Moore, GP)
PNDA can affect dads from all socioeconomic backgrounds and cultures, as they adjust to changes in their lives and the additional pressures. For some dads, the expectation to provide financial stability for their family can seem overwhelming. The symptoms of depression or anxiety can lead to a sense of disappointment – like they’ve let themselves or others down.
According to Dr David Moore, the good news is that dads do benefit from receiving professional help and they can recover. “It’s important to seek guidance as soon as possible. Fathers who are experiencing parenthood adjustment issues can benefit from the support from a professional who listens and understands,” he says.
Gidget Foundation Australia encourages dads to reach out for emotional support to understand what is happening to them, to feel well again and in turn be able to enjoy time with their children and partner. Dads are encouraged to watch the video ‘Understanding Perinatal Depression and Anxiety for Dads’ and contact their GP to gain a mental health plan if they need some extra support.
2Patton GC, Coffey C, Posterino M, Carlin JB, Bowes G: Life events and early onset depression: cause or consequence? Psychological Medicine 2003, 33(7):1203-1210
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