Lots of signs and symptoms of perinatal anxiety and depression don’t just apply to mums – dads can experience them too. During the transition to parenthood, a whole range of physical, mental, emotional and social changes happen. It can take some time to adjust and get your bearings.
“I would sit at my desk for hours, with my head in my hands, trying to think my way through all the competing pressures I was feeling.”
Symptoms of anxiety and depression look different for everyone.
These are some of the common signs and symptoms of anxiety and depression in expecting and new dads:
- Constant tiredness or exhaustion.
- High physical stress levels (eg headaches, muscle tension).
- Loss of interest in things you usually enjoy (eg work, relationships, down time).
- Appetite changes.
- Sleep problems (unrelated to baby’s sleep).
- Changes to sex drive and desire for intimacy.
- Irritability, anger, resentment, frustration, moodiness.
- Fear of looking after your baby, or avoiding caring for them.
- Feeling rejected by your partner as they focus on caring for baby.
- Emotional withdrawal from your partner, baby, family, friends.
- Not wanting to communicate with your loved ones.
- Feeling isolated and lonely.
- Using alcohol or drugs to ‘escape’ or cope.
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, it’s a good idea to have a chat with someone.
“I was unhappy with myself, because I’d always wanted to be a great husband and a great father, and I felt like I was failing terribly at both of those goals.”
If you’re not ready to speak to your partner, family or friends, PANDA’s Helpline can help. Almost 1 in 10 callers to our Helpline are men, and we have male telephone counsellors available if you’d prefer to speak to another bloke about what’s going on.
We’ll listen, support you, and help you access supports specifically designed for the wellbeing of expecting and new dads.
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).