Effects on Men
To read the Introducton to Fathers Click Here
Men can get depressed too. It’s not only women who have a higher risk of getting depressed at this time, men can get postnatal depression too.
In the first few months after the baby is born more women than men will be depressed. Towards the end of the first year the rate of depression is similiar. 5-10% of men will be depressed at this time.
If one partner is depressed this will increase the chances of the other partner getting or being depressed. This will increase the stress and means that, as a couple; they are less able to be supportive of one another. Men who have been depressed previously have a higher chance of becoming depressed again at this stressful time.
Men find it harder to recognise and accept that they might be depressed. The symptoms can be similar to those described for women but men may be particularly irritable, angry or uncommunicative. Men are likely to see these feelings as a weakness (which it is not).
A good book to read is “Living with a Black Dog” by Matthew Johnstone. (See Book and Links section).
What happens to men if their partner gets PND?
When a mother is experiencing PND or another mental health problem following the birth of her baby, it can be a confusing and distressing time for the father.
Everything that was planned is going wrong. Men like to try and fix problems but this is something that can’t be fixed easily. Gifts, to try and make his partner feel better, don’t seem to help.
There can be feelings of helplessness and being overwhelmed with the situation. The partner that they have known and loved has changed. Men can feel scared of what is going to happen in the future.
Men can suffer in silence because they are unsure of who to talk to and where to get help.
A father may get frequent telephone calls from his partner while he is at work.
“To be honest I think I just shut myself away and just got on with my job. I tried to put it behind me at work. I never really sat down and thought about it until I got home at night and then I thought “what are we going to do?”
“There were only a couple of people who knew, like the doctor, because Sally didn’t want anyone to know – she was afraid that people would judge her, think she was like that woman on the news and that she might harm her children. That made it hard because I kept having to take time off work and juggle everything, because of our other daughter. Work was a very stressful environment, Sally would call about 20 times a day, and then I came home to a very stressful environment – looking back, I think I just tried to block it all out. She was the furthest thing from herself”.