"Male postnatal depression can often manifest a significant period of time after the birth..."It is estimated that post-natal depression affects around 10% of fathers and 15% of mothers. For many men, coping with the burden of their own depression as well as supporting the mother and transitioning to the new role of a father can be challenging. PANDA has compiled some useful resources about the occurrence and management of postnatal (postpartum) depression in men.
Challenges For Health Services
Male postnatal depression can often manifest a significant period of time after the birth, from six weeks to 6 months or longer. This poses a challenge for services whose traditional focus can be on the health and wellbeing of mothers and they may not notice or even engage with fathers about their own health.
There is evidence that fathers whose partner is experiencing or has experienced postnatal depression are at greater risk themselves of suffering from depression. Unlike women, fathers' engagement with health services tends to be for a shorter time than mothers' and so problems can go undiagnosed.
Risk Factors For Male PostNatal Depression
- Tiredness, headaches and pain
- Irritability, anxiety and anger
- Loss of libido
- Changes in appetite
- Feelings of being overwhelmed, out of control and unable to cope
- Engaging in risk taking behaviour
- Feelings of isolation and disconnection from partner, friends or family
- Withdrawal from intimate relationships and from family, friends and community life
- Increased hours of work as a part of the withdrawal from family etc
- Increased use of drugs or alcohol instead of seeking treatment for depression
Factors that generally seem relate to the man’s experience:
- the impact of changing social roles for fathers in the family
- norms and attitudes toward fatherhood and masculinity – men are less likely to talk about how they feel and maintaining that they are coping is very important
- change in family dynamics so that some men may feel excluded from the parenting role or from the relationship with their partner. This may result in resentment towards the baby.
- worries about extra responsibilities, financial burdens and managing the stresses of work unmet expectations for the resumption of the sexual relationship in the early postnatal period
- pregnancy, particularly early on, appears to be the most stressful period for men in the transition to fatherhood. This may be due to changes to his partner’s body, how supported and included he feels, concern about the pending changes to his life and feeling unsure about his role in caring for his partner.
- Men and Post-Natal Depression Factsheet -76 KB
Provides a useful guide to men and depression around or after becoming a father.