There has been a lot of media coverage about postnatal depression over the last few months with particular attention being paid to the effect it has on new mums and how more can be done to help women during this difficult time.
It’s great that such a serious issue is finally being addressed but sadly, very little is ever mentioned about the struggles that new dads face. In fact, very few people know that men can even suffer from postnatal depression.
In 2010 however, the UK Medical Research Council and University College London carried out studies which found that 21% of dads with children aged 12 and under had suffered a depressive episode at some point - with the highest risk being in the child’s first year.
Experts have said that for new mums it’s very much a postcode lottery. There are some towns where there is really good support for postnatal depression and some places where there is very little help available. As if this wasn’t worrying enough, it has been found that the support available for men is non-existent.
Adrienne Burgess, CEO of The Fatherhood Institute commented:
“I’m always shocked that mental health services think they can address the mother on her own. They don’t do a proper diagnoses to find out what’s going on. There may be relationship issues affecting both partners and dads themselves can be affected by a mother’s postnatal depression. Depression is catching so if one partner is depressed it’s quite common for their partner to become depressed.”
Furthermore, it has been found that men can experience hormonal changes shortly after becoming a dad. This is particularly the case for those who are hands-on in the early days - taking care of a baby and carrying it around can actually cause physiological changes in the body.
Experts are now calling for more to be done for men who may be suffering from postnatal depression. Burgess continued:
“Fathers’ depression and anxiety has every bit as negative an impact on children’s wellbeing as mothers. If you’re going to ignore fathers’ mental health, you’re ignoring children’s too.”
If you would like more information about postnatal depression, the signs and symptoms, please feel free to visit our Mental Health Knowledge Centre for more information. If you would like help with depression please contact us today.