I had several people ask me about postpartum mental health for dads this week. I feel like the universe is telling me to spread some knowledge about this issue! So in this post, I’ll give a little overview of postpartum depression and anxiety as it presents in dads, in addition to where to find more resources.
Until I started training to treat postpartum moms, I didn’t realize that dads can also experience depression and anxiety in the postpartum period. Studies show at least 1 in 10 dads (research is done mainly on heterosexual couples) experience a mood or anxiety disorder following the birth of their child. That’s a huge number! It’s time to break the silence.
Why are partners impacted by anxiety and depression postpartum? While pregnancy and birth impact women physiologically, both parents are impacted by the huge changes that come with having a baby. Your relationship to your partner changes, your identity transforms, you’re not sleeping, your whole lifestyle changes. It’s incredibly stressful, and stress can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges.
As with postpartum depression for women, postpartum depression in dads also presents itself differently from what we see in the media. It’s important to highlight what else depression and anxiety can look like for postpartum dads, including:
- Increased anger and irritability
- A sense of disconnection from mom and baby
- Social isolation
- Physical symptoms such as headaches and gastrointestinal issues
- Sense of being not good enough as a father
- Sleep disturbance
- Issues with concentration & memory
- Thoughts of self harm and/or suicide
These are just a sampling. A guide I often go from is to ask if you’re feeling like yourself. The transition to parenthood is challenging for everyone. However, if you feel so far from the person you used to be, are wondering if you made a mistake, if you’re not sure you’re cut out for fatherhood, and you’re wondering if you’ll ever stop feeling this way, it might be more.
The good news is that you’re not alone, and that help is out there. There’s more information online about signs, symptoms, risk factors, and where to get help. Postpartum depression for moms and dads is treatable, and there’s no need to suffer in silence.