“Up to 1 in 10 new fathers experience symptoms of postnatal anxiety and/or depression in the first year after their baby is born. ”
If you are a new or expecting dad and you are struggling with how you feel, or not feeling how you expected to feel, it’s important to speak to someone. You may be having difficulty adjusting, or feel overwhelmed, tired or unsure of how you can best help and support your partner.
Up to 1 in 10 fathers develop symptoms of postnatal depression and/or anxiety in the year after having a baby. Research suggests that depression and anxiety symptoms may be more common for parents who:
- Have experienced mental health issues before
- Experience a difficult or traumatic birth
- Are caring for a sick baby
- Have less practical, emotional or social support
- Feel the burden of financial stress
- Have current or past experiences with alcohol or drug misuse
- Have major life and relationship difficulties, past and present
- Are caring for a partner experiencing symptoms of postnatal anxiety and/or depression
- Are experiencing or have a history of family violence
- Have a history of trauma
- Have a premature baby
- Parents of multiples.
- Find the reality of parenting is different from their expectations.
What are the symptoms of perinatal depression and anxiety for dads?
We know that everyone experiences antenatal anxiety and depression differently. The way it can affect you depends on a range of factors, from your own physical, emotional and mental makeup to external factors that might be having an impact.
There are also different degrees of perinatal mental health. Some people experience milder symptoms of antenatal anxiety or depression, while others have more severe symptoms. The common factor is if it is affecting your ability to enjoy your pregnancy and potentially impacting your ability to function at all.
Changes in moods and emotions can be common
New dads experiencing changes to their mental health may experience behavioural changes
Physical symptoms of postnatal anxiety and/or depression
If your feelings are overwhelming or stopping you from functioning normally in daily life, you may be experiencing symptoms of antenatal anxiety and/or depression. It’s important to seek professional support if you’re concerned about how you’re feeling, as treatment is an important factor in recovering from perinatal depression and/or anxiety.
The sooner you seek support, the sooner you can begin treatment and start feeling better.
There is no one-size-fits-all treatment, and everyone responds to treatment at their own pace. Treatment for perinatal anxiety or depression typically includes counselling (talk therapy) and possibly medication depending on the severity of your symptoms.
While anxiety and depression can feel debilitating and isolating, it is important to remember that these changes to your mental health are temporary and treatable. There are a range of excellent professional supports and help available.
Men can find it more difficult to reach out for help and support due to feelings of shame, cultural stigma and other barriers to receiving mental health support. Some avenues you can take include:
- Speak with your partner and sharing how you are feeling
- Talk to a trusted friend or family member, especially if that person has experienced mental health issues
- Your GP is an excellent starting point, and they can refer you to a psychologist or counsellor who has experience in supporting new dads
- If you are having suicidal thoughts or are feeling distressed or disoriented it’s important to get help immediately. Call the PANDA Helpline (Mon to Fri, 9am - 7.30pm AEST) or Lifeline 13 11 14 (24/7)
If you are in any doubt, call the PANDA National Helpline. Our telephone counsellors will listen carefully to your concerns and help you towards the most appropriate steps to take from there.
PANDA National Helpline
Find someone to talk to, Monday to Saturday.
1300 726 306
Call 000 for police and ambulance if you or someone else are in immediate danger
Talk with friends or family
Consider talking about how you are feeling with someone you trust. This might be a friend or family member. Once you starting talking you might be surprised at how many others have had similar experiences and the support they can provide you.
Talk with your doctor
Talking with your doctor can be an important step to getting the help you need. They should be able to give you non-judgemental support, assessment, diagnosis, and ongoing care and treatment. They can also refer you to specialists such as a counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist.
Get help now
If you are having suicidal thoughts or are feeling disorientated it’s important to get help immediately. PANDA is not a crisis service, if you need immediate support call Lifeline 13 11 14 (24/7).