When we hear of postnatal depression, we instantly assume it applies to the mother. However, NHS research suggests that one in five fathers suffer from postnatal depression. It is common for this to arise from three to six months after the baby is born, however, as with women, it can happen anytime up to 12 months.
When women get PND, it is often put down to hormones and their whole life changing to accommodate this tiny new being. However, many people don't realise that dad's hormones also change through pregnancy, with their testosterone levels decreasing and oestrogen levels increasing. In addition to this, they are also dealing with sleep deprivation and the uncertainty of knowing what to do to help care for the new bundle.
The stress for men is real, their world has also been completely transformed in the blink of an eye. They have to care for their recovering partner and share the load of the newborn. Sometimes Dad's can be left to care for the older child too, which can prove difficult. At the same time, there's the increased financial burden of another head in the family and being the sole breadwinner, perhaps, even if only for a short amount of time.
Feeling anxious, panicky, sad and blue for a continued amount of time are signs of PND. Struggling to sleep or not looking forward to things which you usually would are also signs. The key thing is to recognise these symptoms and accept that PPND is a real condition. It needs treatment and acknowledging to be able to overcome it. The lack of awareness of dad's postnatal depression can often leave men feeling isolated or confused, but knowing you are not alone, and that help is at hand is a good start.
With any mental health condition, it is important to seek medical advice from your GP or other health professional for medication or counselling. In addition to this professional care, self help can also play a huge part in your recovery. You won't be able to 'snap out of it', but you may be able to help yourself with a healthy lifestyle. Ensure your diet is well balanced and that you are eating enough; it can be tempting to skip meals when you are so busy or feeling down. Also, prioritise sleep and relaxation, and get outside for fresh air and exercise.