When you look at resources and statistics of Perinatal Depression and Anxiety, it is predominantly aimed at and focused on pregnant women and new mothers. But what about the dads? According to PANDA- Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia, 1 in 20 men experience antenatal (during pregnancy) depression, while 1 in 10 men experience postnatal (within the first 12 months following the birth) depression. Antenatal and Postnatal anxiety are just as common, with many experiencing both. So why isn’t there as much focus on dads? Is it because society believes that men need to be the “strong ones”, and hide their emotions? Is it because women tend to have more access to health professionals such as doctors, midwives and child health nurses over the course of the pregnancy and postpartum periods so symptoms are identified and acted on quicker? Is it because society tends to place greater focus on the woman as she is the one carrying the baby and giving birth, while a lot of the time men take a back seat (so to speak)? Or maybe it’s because men in general tend to find it difficult or not masculine to admit that they are having a hard time coping and are reluctant to seek support?
Whatever the reason, we need to step up and support dads too!
Paternal Perinatal Depression and Anxiety can affect anyone. It doesn’t care who you are or where you come from. In many ways, it displays the same signs and symptoms as in women, however with the added pressures on males to be the “provider” for the family in many cases, there are additional risk and contributing factors to be aware of.
Signs to look for include:
Some men may be more at risk of developing Perinatal Depression and Anxiety- others may not identify with any of these factors:
There are many other factors that can contribute to the development of depression and anxiety- some physical, some emotional and some social. These are known as biopsychosocial factors and include:
We tend to focus on mum and baby when asking how everything is going and how they are coping. But let’s not forget about dads too. Ask how he is going, look out for any signs he may be having a bit of a rough time. Most importantly, let him know that it’s ok to speak up! It doesn’t mean he is weak, it doesn’t make him a sook or a wuss or any other ‘soft’ term society likes to throw around when men show emotion. He is as much a part of this upheaval as mum, and needs the same level of support.
For more information and support for dads, visit How Is Dad Going? here
*information sourced from www.panda.org.au/ and howisdadgoing.org.au/