Becoming a father is a big life change, there are many things to learn and adjust to in your new role. Along with all the excitement and joy of having a baby, fatherhood may also bring sleepless nights, lack of routine, and unexpected stress between you and your partner. When everyone’s focus is on baby and mom, fathers may feel left out and wondering why no one has asked them how they are doing.
June 18th, 2018 is International Fathers’ Mental Health Day
As time moves on, fathers can feel alone which can lead to sadness, anxiety, and upset feelings.
We often see men and fathers as the ‘rock’ or ‘backbone’ of the family, strong and dependable. This can add pressure and stress to fathers, making it harder for them to get help.
Statistics show that 10% of men can experience depression after the birth of a baby. This number increases to 50% when their partner is affected by depression/anxiety.
Common symptoms of paternal depression & anxiety:
- Communication difficulties
- Increased anger (sometimes violent behaviour)
- Increased use of alcohol or prescription/street drugs.
- Significant weight gain or loss
- Isolation from family and friends
- Being easily stressed.
Symptoms usually show up 3 to 6 months after baby arrives.
Tips to help manage your stress and emotions:
- Make a plan so each person has time off, even an hour or two can help
- Deep breathing, with the exhale being 2x as long as the inhale
- Talk to your partner, friend, or doctor about how you are feeling
How to help your partner:
- Stand together when others (family/friends) offer unwanted/unasked for help – say something like “what you are suggesting worked for you and this is what has worked for us”
- Listen with the purpose of understanding
- Discuss together that these days can be really challenging and will need both parents supporting each other.
Do you need support? Ask yourself these questions:
Over the last 2 weeks, how often have you been bothered by the following?
- Little interest or pleasure in doing things?
- Feeling down, depressed or hopeless?
(Not at all = 0; several days =1; more than half the days =2; nearly every day =3)
Score over 3?