“Dads are most ordinary men turned by love into heroes, adventurers, story-tellers, and singers of song.”
– Pam Brown
The one sentence by the famous Australian poet tells the humbleness of fathers. Like mothers, fathers too are emotionally connected and attached to their children. And howsoever “strongest” they might be, like mothers daddies can also suffer from depression after their child’s birth, a condition known as postnatal depression (PND) or paternal depression.
PND is a condition that affects a parent during the first year of the child’s birth. From being mild to hard-hitting, it might develop instantly or after some time in either or both of the parents. Studies in the past suggest that fathers are also at a risk of developing PND along with mothers. Therefore, as the United States observes Father’s Day on Sunday, June 18, 2017 to celebrate his contributions to his child’s life, let’s help them develop a better understanding of PND so that they may avoid its development and are able to enjoy time with their children.
Causes and symptoms
Being a father is one of the happiest and proud moments in a man’s life. But, with such immense happiness comes great responsibility, which in turn can trigger PND. From a family history of depression to the fear of new responsibilities, financial trouble and strain at work, there are several factors that can trigger PND in new dads. Some of these are:
- Adjusting to the new lifestyle during the first year of the child’s birth, such as moving into a new house, working for long hours, inadequate sleep, etc.
- Having a baby with sleeping issues.
- Having a baby who cries a lot.
- Being the dad of twins.
- Changed family dynamics.
- Lack of social and emotional support.
- Inability to bond with the baby until birth.
The symptoms of PND in dads are varied. Some of the common ones that signify its development are:
- Low self-esteem
- Feeling of helplessness and isolation
- Loss of pleasure in doing things once enjoyed
- Reduced socializing
- Changed eating habits
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Poor performance at work
- Low energy levels
- Sleep issues
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Withdrawal from intimate relationships
- Difficulty in taking decisions
Treatment for PND
Like any other mental health condition, PND too can have devastating effects on a man’s relationship with his partner, baby, friends and other family members. It has also been found that PND in dads can have negative effects on a child’s social and emotional behavioral development as well. While it is true that it gets difficult to live with a man who has PND, it is a wife’s responsibility to support her partner in such a tough situation.
PND can be treated by sending the dad affected by the condition for counselling and therapy, medication, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or taking help from recognized peer support groups. However, the most suitable treatment varies from dad to dad.
Self-help tips, such as sharing feelings with the people one trusts, engaging oneself in favorite hobbies and activities, regular exercises, etc. can also help him cope with its symptoms.
It is important to understand that paternal depression does not affect an individual based on his gender, caste or family background. The condition can affect any father at any point of time. Therefore, one should stay cautious to avoid the risk of developing this illness.
If there’s someone you know who is dealing with any form of mental illness, including PND, Sovereign Health can help through outpatient or inpatient mental health treatment centers in California. Call our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164 or chat with one of our representatives to know about our inpatient mental health treatment in California.