This Sunday, thousands of Australian men will be experiencing their first Father’s Day. For most, it will be a day filled with joy and wonder. However, for some, the pressure of fatherhood may have become so overwhelming that they may be experiencing distress, depression or anxiety.
According to the CEO of beyondblue Kate Carnell AO: “Research suggests that one in 10 men may experience symptoms of depression in the first year of their baby’s life. This can have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of their child and their partner. Also, men living with, and supporting a partner with postnatal depression are at increased risk of developing depression or anxiety themselves.”
Dr Nicole Highet, Senior Perinatal Advisor at beyondblue, said: “With one in seven women experiencing postnatal depression, additional burdens are often placed on the father which can cause greater distress and increased likelihood of depression.
“We know many fathers continue to work fulltime, while trying to look after a wife with postnatal depression and a newborn baby. Without professional assistance and intervention, the risk of depression quickly escalates.
“While many women will experience the usually temporary ‘baby blues’, around 14 per cent of mothers who go on to experience postnatal depression, will need professional treatment that may include counselling, medication and hospitalisation. Suddenly, dad is literally left ‘holding the baby’ and it can be an overwhelming time for the entire family.
“The good news is that help is available and postnatal depression and anxiety experienced during pregnancy or following the birth of the baby can be managed and treated.
“It is also important to remember that depression and anxiety are not a normal part of pregnancy. Concerningly, research tells us that nearly half of all men think that postnatal depression is normal, while a third believes it will go away by itself. This is a fallacy. Untreated postnatal depression in women is likely to get worse without treatment. The same is true of men – If fathers are experiencing signs or symptoms of depression, they too need to get professional help to allow them to enjoy fatherhood, Dr Highet said.
beyondblue has a range resources available to help both mothers and fathers through the first whirlwind year of parenthood. beyondblue’s Hey Dad booklet is specifically designed for fathers and has practical tips and strategies for managing the arrival of a new baby.
As one father whose wife experienced PND said: “I did not know what was happening – she was a completely different person….nothing I did helped…I felt totally bewildered and lost. I still cry – even now – years later …it was awful to watch her take no joy in our baby.”
Source: Beyond Blue