Wellbeing and Mental Health
There is often a lot of information available talking about women suffering from postnatal depression and/or anxiety (1 in 5 women), however men can also suffer following the birth of a child. In fact, statistics show 1 in 10 men suffer so it’s important to talk about this issue and get support if you think you might be suffering from depression and/or anxiety. It is important to note, men and women may also suffer depression and anxiety during pregnancy.
As a parent it is important to take care of yourself both mentally and physically as this has benefits for yourself and your children. When you are not feeling your best it’s difficult to be the parent and partner you want to be.
Adjusting to life with a new baby is not easy, but you aren’t alone. It can be difficult to speak up and ask for support and you may not recognise that you are suffering from depression or anxiety. Apart from talking to your partner, you may find it helpful to talk to other dads around you either at work, in your family or new connections you have made. You may find that talking to other dads helps to normalise and understand some of the feelings associated with this time.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if I'm depressed?
This is a great question as it isn’t always easy to work that out. Some symptoms are:
- Not bonding with your baby
- Feeling hopeless or numb
- Having trouble thinking clearly
- No energy
- Can’t be bothered
If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms for more than a couple of weeks, then it is a good idea to have a talk with your doctor. You could also take the online Beyond Blue stress test to help you become more aware of what you are thinking and feeling, which will help you have a clearer conversation with your local doctor.
Karitane Tip: If you have a mental illness or past history of depression becoming a new dad may increase your stress, requiring you to seek support sooner rather than later. It is important to look out for the warning signs for yourself and listen to people that care about you if they are saying they are concerned about how you are coping.
Is feeling anxious normal?
It can be normal to have stress for immediate concerns or worries such as being a new dad and not feeling confident about how to help care for your baby or juggle work and family demands. Stress can be a good motivator to take some action and get things done, however prolonged stress is not helpful such as losing your job, having to find a new place to live, having a chronically sick child or relationship breakdown and aggression. Stress and anxiety are similar in that you may notice symptoms of stress and anxiety often show up physically:
- Increased headaches, sweat, speech or breathing
- Worrying thoughts which are hard to stop or control
- Often anticipating ‘what if’ concerns about baby, pregnancy or life in general
- Feeling restless or on edge
- Feeling tense, jittery or agitated which sometimes leads to tight chest or palpitations
What can I do if I feel anxious?
Experiencing an anxiety disorder can contribute to prolonged stress in the body and is worth doing something about. If you have any of the symptoms of stress or anxiety above, for more than a couple of weeks, it is worth talking to your doctor. You could also take the online Beyond Blue stress test to help you become more aware of what you are thinking and feeling, which will help you have a clearer conversation with your local doctor.
Even if you can’t change the circumstances very quickly, it is important to notice your stress and do something to calm yourself and reduce your physical stress regularly. It doesn’t have to be for long periods of time, even 5 minutes of stress reducing activity at least once to several times a day can significantly reduce your stress. Some healthy ways to reduce stress are:
- Deep breathing
- Listening to music
- Reading a book
- Talking to a mate
Karitane Tip: If you have a mental illness or past history of anxiety disorder becoming a new dad may increase your stress, requiring you to seek support sooner rather than later. It is important to look out for the warning signs for yourself and listen to people that care about you if they are saying they are concerned about how you are coping.
Where can I get support?
Talking to your local doctor can be very helpful. They can help you decide what might be the best plan for your situation. There are also some good websites that can help you make better sense of where you are at, coping as a dad and what you can do about it.
- Mentoring Men - Where no man walks alone
- Dadvice - For new and expectant dads
- COPMI – Parenting with a mental illness
- The Black Dog Institute
- The Fathering Project
- Raising Children Network - Special dad time: How to make it happen
- List of Mens Behaviour Change programs – Saying no to violence
Mental Health Services
Are you, or someone you know, feeling overwhelmed, worried or sad either during pregnancy or soon after the birth of a baby? If so, this could be Perinatal Mood Disorder (PMD). PMD is very common – one in five women and one in ten men experience it as new parents. However help is at hand because Karitane has a great wealth of experience helping families in this situation.Learn More
Wellbeing and Mental Health
Dads Make a Difference
Mums and dads bring different things to the wellbeing of children. Dads are often more physical, flexible and have more of a give-and-take approach to play and interactions. While each parent will bring their own unique parenting style, there are some general truths that research backs up about the benefits that Dads bring to raising children.Learn More