Although postnatal depression is mainly a problem for mothers, it is recognised that new fathers can also become depressed. It has been suggested that as many as 1 in 25 new fathers are affected. The birth of a baby and the changes that take place after the birth may have a dramatic effect upon the mother, the father, or both. This is a major life event and as such can be a factor in the development of depression. The pressures of fatherhood, responsibility, increased expense and the change in life-style as well as the tiredness can increase the risk of depression. New fathers are more likely to become depressed if their partner is depressed, if they aren’t getting along with their partner, or if they are unemployed. This isn’t important just from the father’s point of view. It will affect the mother and may have an important impact on how the baby grows and develops in the first few months.
Anyone suffering from symptoms of depression may find talking about their feelings with friends or family can be helpful. Few services exist for men. Most men don’t like to admit that they feel fragile or vulnerable, and so are less likely to talk about their feelings with their friends, loved ones or GP. This may be the reason that they often don’t ask for help when they become depressed. His GPs or Health Visitor will be able to listen and help but you may need to go together. Treatment or counselling may be appropriate for your partner.
Dads are at increased risk if they have lost their job and are unemployed and if you have relationship problems
Dads can also suffer from Post Traumatic Stress following a traumatic birth and have negative emotional feelings which can effect family relationships and would be advised to seek support.
Bria et al, (2008) British Journal of Midwifery
White, G (2007) You cope by breaking down in private: fathers and PTSD following childbirth. British Journal of Midwifery. 15.(1), 39-45.