Post-natal depression is a well-known illness that can affect mothers in the weeks or months after giving birth. However, there is evidence that dads too can suffer from the symptoms of "baby blues"! The extra responsibility of having a child can affect us all. However, unlike a lot of women, who can turn to their doctor, health visitor or family for help when feeling down, new dads often do not have the support to help them cope.
Although many will disagree that men can suffer from post-natal depression (as they don't actually give birth) research over the years has shown that new dads can.
A few months after the birth of his daughter, Hazel, David Pembrol began to suffer frequent anxiety attacks.
"Having kids was always something my wife Louise and I had agreed on, and after three years of marriage the time felt right to have a baby," explained Pembrol, who lives in Southampton. "We were both working in a bank at the time and had a good income. Within six months of Hazel's arrival, my life had been completely turned upside down. Although I had a wonderful relationship with my daughter, I was finding it hard to come to terms with being a father."
"It became a struggle to make ends meet and I was always miserable. The lack of sleep made me increasingly irritable and I was no longer fun to be around. Looking back I wished someone would have noticed how unhappy I was. Fortunately, the turning point came when we decided to move house and in doing so, I was able to make some money on the sale. This extra cash helped me pay off many of our outstanding bills and slowly I began to feel better about myself. A couple of years on and I feel a different person. It took quite a long time to feel better, but now I love my responsibilities as a father.".
Many women become so engrossed in caring for their newborn that they often pay little attention to the needs of their husband. This was the case with 30-year-old banker Sally Hughes. "The heavy dark rings' around his eyes should have been a warning but I didn't notice," explained Hughes. "Even the anxiety attacks and bouts of insomnia my husband had, barely seemed to register with me. For months my once bubbly and outgoing husband had not been himself and I had selfishly overlooked his needs. After the arrival of our second child he would often come home drained, saying he felt panicky and agitated. Not one to show his emotions easily my husband found it difficult to admit he was feeling unhappy. The stress of paying bill's whilst trying to support a family of four on his salary was hard. For months I had unknowingly pushed his feelings aside and being able to eventually talk through our problems helped enormously."
Post Natal Depression (PND) is an illness that usually occurs within a few weeks after the birth of a baby.
It is not easily recognisable as often men, like women, will not seek help. As well as being unable to face up to the responsibilities of caring for a new baby, many men cannot cope with the financial implications. There are a number of symptoms to look out for if you believe your partner is suffering.
- Anxiety attacks
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Weight loss or gain
- Mood swings and irritability
- Loss of libido
The good news is that help is at hand through initiatives such as Daddynatal, a website that offers antenatal advice for men by men, and also the group PANDAS a group for partners that suffer from PND.