The New Dad’s Guide to Surviving Perinatal and Postpartum Depression and Anxiety
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This is a guest post from Peter Mutuc – check out their website.
Based on the findings of Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia aka PANDA, around 100,000 aussie families are affected by post and antenatal depression and anxiety. PANDA is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing support for these families, and according to them, 1 in 20 men experience antenatal depression (during the pregnancy) while 1 in 10 men experience postnatal depression (after the baby is born).
If you’re one of these men, the first step towards getting better is simple: seek help.
Never Be Afraid or Ashamed of Asking for Help
It’s a pretty simple thing to do, but for men who are not used to expressing themselves or confronting their emotions, it can be hard to even just start seeking help.
A lot of this is because of society’s expectations of men and masculinity. A great majority of perinatal and postpartum depression occurs in women, and men are traditionally expected to just ‘tough it out’ and support their families as best they can.
But if you’re a new dad who’s struggling with pregnancy-related depression and anxiety, you need to be able to support yourself first before you can support anyone.
According to Christina Hibbert, founder of the Arizona Postpartum Wellness Coalition, “the big issue for men is to take the depression seriously and be able to recognize it’s really happening.” Paternal postnatal depression and anxiety is a medical condition, and it should be treated like one – as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, when it comes to depression, you can’t just ‘walk it off’. The sooner you seek treatment, the better able you’ll be to support you family, now and in the future.
So, talk to the people you trust and let them know what’s going on in your life. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the mother of your child/children. It can be your best friend, a family member, or anyone who can understand and support you.
If you feel that you need more help, get an expert’s opinion and recommendation for therapy sessions, and if necessary, accompanying medication. The most recent research reveals that therapy is highly effective at mitigating depression.
Depression is Different From “The Blues”
If your negative feelings last for more than 3 weeks without dropping in intensity, it’s probably already depression.
This can be accompanied by changes in appetite and weight (sudden loss or gain), very little energy for any activity (even ones you used to enjoy), insomnia, oversleeping, and being generally unmotivated. If you suspect that a family member of yours may be struggling with anxiety and depression, watch for any of these symptoms.
When even the activities that you used to really enjoy can’t mitigate these symptoms and negative feelings, it’s definitely depression.
Try Eating Right and Exercising Regularly
Doing these might not instantly make you feel better, but they’re certainly steps in the right direction. Treating your body well can contribute a lot to keeping you positive about the future.
If you just eat right and maintain a regular exercise routine, you’re giving yourself a much higher chance of bouncing back from depression, no matter how bad it’s become. If you can somehow manage to stay somewhat physically healthy during all this, that’s one less major thing you need to worry about.
Men Experience Pregnancy-Related Hormonal Changes Too
Stop blaming yourself. There’s a biological reason why you’re depressed.
It’s not just pregnant women who experience significant changes in hormone levels. Being a new dad comes with lowered testosterone levels as well as higher levels of estrogen, which makes them biologically predisposed to depression immediately after the pregnancy.
Combined with the sleep deprivation of new parenthood, these imbalances can set the stage for major cases of anxiety and depression, both in women and in men. It can get even worst for couples with complicated relationships, financial problems, work-related stress, and/or have experienced complications during the pregnancy.
When things get to be too much, simply talking to family and friends (while sometimes helpful) may not suffice to make things better. Family and friends can’t always help – it’s just one of the harsh realities of full-blown depression. So, if you or someone you know may be struggling from paternal postpartum depression and anxiety, immediately seek professional help and treatment.
If Peter Mutuc isn’t sculpting, writing, editing, drawing, skating, cycling, wrestling with his Labrador, or actively regulating his sleeping patterns through at least 150 minutes of weekly exercise, he’s usually just online, creating and developing web content for One Bed Mattress.