Fathers and postnatal depression

When it hurts to become a father

Postnatal depression is a disorder that can occur during parenthood and can affect both the father and the mother. Depression can start while you’re expecting a baby or after the birth. Around 7 to 10 per cent of men who become fathers experience postnatal depression. Fortunately, postnatal depression is treatable and the sooner you get treatment, the better your chances of coming smoothly through the process.

How do you know if you have postnatal depression?

For example, if you have postnatal depression, you may experience depressive thoughts or anxiety, become angry or feel like running away from it all. Some of the conditions and thoughts that may indicate that you have or have had postnatal depression include:

  • Helplessness: “I can’t live up to the responsibility”, “I’ll just be a lousy father”, “I can’t give enough care” and “It’s all too overwhelming”.
  • Hopelessness: “My life is ruined”, “We should never have had a baby”, “I can’t cope”, and “There’s nothing that helps”.
  • Self-deprecation: “I’m a bad father” or “I’m no good at it”.
  • Guilt: “I’m not good enough”, “I should be so happy”, “I can’t love my child as I should” and “The child will never have a good life with me as a father”.

What happens if you have postnatal depression

Some men find it difficult to recognise that they feel so bad mentally, and find it hard to talk about their feelings. That is why it is important to take the time to take note of your feelings and listen to what your loved ones are telling you, about how you’ve changed, for example.

If you have postnatal depression, you may also be troubled by:

  • physical problems – insomnia, inability to concentrate or lack of appetite
  • Fear and anxiety
  • No feelings of happiness and interest
  • Confusion and restlessness
  • Reduced self-esteem and feelings of guilt
  • Pessimism
  • Suicidal thoughts

Some men react with:

  • Anger – towards the child, towards their partner, themselves or others
  • Aggressiveness and difficulty controlling impulses
  • Low stress threshold
  • Withdrawing from your closest relationships
  • Denial of the need for help
  • Intense preoccupation with work, hobbies, PC games, etc.
  • Abuse

How to come out of postnatal depression

It is important to seek treatment if you have or are developing postnatal depression. In any case, it is a good idea to talk to someone other than your partner about your thoughts and feelings.

Paternal postnatal depression – just like maternal depression – can have a negative impact on the development and well-being of their children.

Postnatal depression can be treated with talk therapy, antidepressants or a combination of both. The treatment focuses on two things: one is to feel better mentally. The other is to strengthen your relationship with your child so you can function together.

If you have any of the symptoms listed above, talk to your doctor or nurse about it. It’s important to get treatment as soon as possible so that you and your child can enjoy each other’s company as much as possible.

You can read more about postnatal depression in men here: https://www.sundmand-foedselsdepression.dk/