Becoming a parent is one of the most life-changing experiences a person can have. The day a child is born is often the most memorable day of a parent’s life, and emotions run high. While it’s usually a joyous occasion, depression is a common part of getting to grips with parenthood. It’s estimated that postnatal depression affects not only 1 in 3 new mothers, but also 1 in 10 new fathers. There is a particular stigma surrounding mental health issues in men, and this means postnatal depression for new fathers often goes unreported.
While the “baby blues” are perfectly normal in new parents, they usually only last for 2 weeks after birth. If a person continues to feel down or anxious, it could be a sign of depression. It should be noted that the onset of postnatal depression isn’t limited to the weeks immediately following the birth; it can occur in men up to a year later.
Like many types of depression, symptoms of postnatal depression can include a general feeling of sadness and anxiety, perhaps even a feeling of isolation from one’s partner. Changes in temperament (e.g. becoming more irritable) and a lack of interest in things that were once enjoyable are also signs to look out for.
Postnatal depression can affect a person’s thoughts as well as their feelings. People experiencing postnatal depression can leave them struggling to concentrate, or feeling overwhelmed by normal day-to-day activities. It can even cause people to shy away from social interactions and struggle to maintain relationships. Physically, a person may feel ‘run down’, have trouble sleeping, lose their appetite and may experience a lack of libido.
Many factors can contribute to a person experiencing postnatal depression. These can range from their family history to their immediate circumstances. As with other kinds of depression, someone with a history of the condition in their family is more likely to develop it.
A common circumstantial factor of postnatal depression in men is their partner suffering from the condition. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy as a parent and a partner, which puts stress on the relationship. There is a common misconception that postnatal depression occurs due to hormone changes after giving birth, and therefore only affects mothers. While hormones may be a factor, it’s inaccurate to label birth-related hormone changes as the leading cause of depression in new parents. Some men may feel disconnected with their new child due to the fact that they didn’t physically give birth, and this can be difficult to talk about and overcome.
The lifestyle changes that come with being a parent, especially for the first time, can be hard to deal with. If a new parent doesn’t have a sufficient support network to help cope with these changes, there’s a higher chance they could develop postnatal depression.
A traumatic experience surrounding the birth of a child can also be a contributing factor. A breakdown in a relationship, suffering a bereavement, or even a distressing birth experience can cause postnatal depression in both mothers and fathers.
Speaking to those around you is often a good place to start. Many new parents can look for a support network amongst their family and friends, many of whom are likely to be parents themselves. Unfortunately, this may not be a long-term solution to postnatal depression specifically. As with most health problems, if it starts to exacerbate you should seek professional help.
Qured makes healthcare easier than ever, by allowing you to schedule doctors appointments at your home or place of work in Greater London. It’s made effortless thanks to our simple-to-use app and doctors can be with you in just two hours. Our professionals will provide the best medical care possible in complete confidence. We’ll help you beat depression and enjoy the rich experience of being a father. Download the Qured app now.