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Perinatal anxiety and depression is real for men too

How is Dad going?


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Perinatal anxiety and depression is real for men too

This article is shared with permission from PANDA

Most people are surprised to know that around 1 in 20 men experience depression during their partner’s 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 the family.

Lots of dads tell us it is hard to talk about their feelings, or about difficulties they might have coping when their partner has done the hard job of carrying and delivering the baby. Most dads want to be there to hold the family together. It is important to recognise that perinatal anxiety and depression is a medical condition. It is also temporary and treatable.

For dads who are struggling, reaching out to get help can take some courage but this is the most important thing a father can do to support his family. While anxiety and depression appear differently for each expecting and new dad some of the common symptoms can be: 

  • Constant tiredness or exhaustion
  • Ongoing headache. High physical stress levels e.g. muscle tension
  • Loss of interest in things that were once enjoyed
  • 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 looking after your baby
  • Not wanting to communicate with your partner, family and friends
  • Feeling isolated
  • Using alcohol or drugs to ‘escape’ or cope
  • Suicide thoughts.

Treatment for Perinatal Anxiety & Depression

It is really important for a new or expecting dad to seek support and treatment for how he is feeling as early as possible to help get better as soon as possible. Seeking support might include:

  • Talking about how you are feeling with someone you trust, so they can provide you with support. This might be a friend or a family member. Once you start talking you might be surprised at how many people have had similar experiences.
  • Talking to a doctor can be an important step to getting help.
  • Therapy or counselling might be recommended to help you. Seeing a therapist or psychiatrist is not a sign of weakness, it's a sign that you are taking the steps necessary to keep yourself and your family safe and healthy.

If you are having suicidal thoughts or are feeling disoriented it’s important to get help immediately. You can talk to your doctor, call the PANDA Helpline (1300 726 306) or Lifeline (13 11 14) both available 24/7.

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