Post Natal Depression in Men

Post Natal depression in men is such an important issue, but unfortunately men who suffer with post natal depression are often forgotten. Between three and 10 percent of men will experience post natal depression. It is often in conjunction with their partner having PND, and while this is a strong predictor it can also happen independently.

Research into men suffering from PND has found that if they are suffering at six weeks post birth, it is likely to still be present at six months post birth, and to be worse than what was experienced at six weeks.

It is also known that many men don’t access the services that their partners’ do, simply because they are not the primary carer of the baby and did not give birth to the child. They don’t have access to the MCH Nurse, to the obstetric or GP  post-birth follow-up appointments that their partners attend. Because of this, they re more likely to slip through the net.

Factors that are common to both men and women experiencing PND are:

  • Changes in relationships
  • Stress
  • A lack of emotional and social support
  • Lack of sleep
  • Issues around grief and loss
  • A traumatic birth experience
  • Difficulty adjusting to parenthood.

There are also factors that are specific to men experiencing PND, these include:

  • Navigating the changing roles of fathers
  • Individual responses to fatherhood and masculinity
  • Worries over change in family circumstances, such as financial pressure
  • Expectations about the resumption of sexual activities after the birth
  • The level of stress during the pregnancy and navigating through changes to his partners body, how included he feels in the pregnancy, concern and uncertainty around where he fits in with his partner and the baby
  • Lack of opportunity to bond with the baby immediately after birth (due to the focus on mother-baby bonding and skin-to-skin contact).

Symptoms of PND in men to to look out for include the following:

  • Loss of libidoI
  • Irritability, anger and anxiety
  • Headaches, pain and tiredness
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed, out of control and unable to cope
  • Changes in appetite
  • Risk-taking behaviour, including increased use of drugs and alcohol
  • Disrupted sleep (not associated with the baby waking)
  • Feeling isolated or disconnected from his partner, family or friends
  • Withdrawing from family, friends and community
  • Increased working hours.

There are support networks available to assist men to recover from PND and it is important that they seek help. Like any major depression, PND requires early intervention in order to recover without any long term negative outcomes. There are many things that can be done to aid recovery. You can read more about how to cope with post natal depression here.   It is important to seek help by visiting your GP or contact PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia) for support.

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