Perinatal Anxiety & Depression in Men
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It is now recognised that around 1 in 20 men experience depression during pregnancy (antenatal) and up to 1 in 10 new dads struggle with depression following the birth of their baby (postnatal). Anxiety is thought to be as common and many men experience anxiety and depression at the same time. It is important to know that help is available and the earlier help is sought the better the outcome for dad and baby.
Signs and symptoms of perinatal anxiety and depression in men
- Constant tiredness or exhaustion
- Ongoing headache and high physical stress levels e.g. muscle tension
- Loss of interest in sex
- Changes in appetite
- Sleep problems (unrelated to baby’s sleep)
- Ongoing irritability, anger or moodiness
- Emotional withdrawal from your partner, baby, family, friends
- Fear of caring for baby
- Not wanting to communicate with your partner, family and friends
- Feeling isolated
- Using alcohol or drugs to ‘escape’ or cope
- Suicide thoughts and behaviours
Caring for someone with Perinatal Anxiety & Depression:
- Anxiety and depression are genuine illnesses. Try not to take any out of character behaviour personally
- Focus on providing practical help and gentle emotional support. Be guided by the person you are supporting as to how much, and what sort of help, they need
- Remember that you are the support person, but not the health professional. You don’t need to take responsibility for providing medical advice or making treatment decisions. Make sure that the person you’re caring for has a good medical team around them
- It can help people with anxiety or depression to have someone they trust with them at medical appointments. Ask if they want or need this kind of help or someone to discuss treatment options with. Try not to be judgmental about their decisions, particularly those around medication.
For more information please also read our factsheet: Caring for Someone with Perinatal Anxiety & Depression and visit www.howisdadgoing.org.au
- The Raising Children's Network provides an introductory page to Becoming a dad: a big adjustment.
- COPMI (Children of Parents with a Mental Illness) provide a range of media and information sheets on the Importance of being 'Dad'. They also have an excellent booklet; Looking after your Emotional Wellbeing for dads, available to view here.
- The Black Dog Institute has a page of information for Fathers
- Mensline provides a comprehensive website regarding men's emotions and mental health along with a wide range of associated topics. They also have a 24 hour 7 day a week telephone support line: 1300 78 99 78
- The Better Health Channel's Depression in Men page discusses how depression affects both men and women, but quite often what they experience and how they respond is different. Men tend to focus on the physical symptoms, such as feeling tired or losing weight, rather than emotional symptoms like feeling 'low'. This is one of the reasons depression in men may not be picked up.
- Beyond Blue has a extensive page regarding depression and anxiety in men.
- Stayin on Track is a website which aims to support young Aborignal men as they become fathers.