Becoming a parent can be an exciting time, but it can also be a time which brings stress, anxiety, lack of sleep and more. Many people may have heard about ‘Maternal Mental Health’, but did you know dads can get depression and anxiety as well after a new baby arrives?
Paternal Depression and Anxiety (postpartum depression and anxiety in men) is real, and happens to approximately 1 in 10 new fathers.
During pregnancy and after the birth of their baby, dads may be filled with joy and excitement. Then as days, weeks, and months pass, the initial excitement becomes more of a reality. Many times, the focus of recovery and care tends to be towards the mother and infant, and less towards dad. But who will ask dad how he is feeling?
Often times, the father can be seen as the ‘strong one’ both physically and emotionally.
However, the sleepless nights, feelings of being left out, having trouble calming a crying baby, juggling home, work and social life can all begin to take a toll on a father’s mental health.
June 17, 2019 is International Father’s Mental Health Day
Common symptoms of paternal depression and anxiety:
- Increased frustration, anger, and conflict with others
- Increased use of alcohol or prescription/street drugs
- Significant weight gain or loss
- Isolation from family and friends
- Increased complaints about physical problems (e.g. fatigue, headaches, digestive issues)
- Loss of interest in work, hobbies and/or sex or working too much
- Feeling sad or crying for no reason
- Thoughts of suicide or death
Fathers can experience depression and anxiety very differently, and it tends to show up around 3 to 6 months after baby arrives.
Tips to help symptoms:
- Talk with your partner and set times so each person can have their own ‘down time’ to rest and sleep
- Talk with a friend and your health care provider, don’t hide or downplay your feelings – they are real!
Plan a simple ‘date’ time with your partner. Remember, you are not alone. There is help. You will get better.
For more questions and support, please contact:
- Toronto Public Health eChat or call (416) 338-7600 to speak with a public health nurse
- Postpartum Support International
- Urgent Services in Toronto
- Things Dads Do – Fatherhood Matters
- Fathers Mental Health
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