The famous “baby blues” is almost always associated with women. After giving birth lifestyle changes so drastically that some women find it hard to adapt to the new order of things. Even though the focus is on the moms, fathers are by no means excluded from becoming victims of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. While 1 in 5 women experience such symptoms, 1 in 10 men do as well. The newborn brings about changes that both parents tend to struggle with, and they often feel helpless, trapped, anxious, and out of control. However, this type of depression manifests itself in men differently than it does in women. Men are likely to avoid expressing their emotions, they deny vulnerability and therefore do not seek help. Let’s take a look at some telltale signs that something is wrong.
Men experiencing depression will most probably:
- Be irritable, in a bad mood, agitated and angry
- Work longer hours distancing himself from the family
- Engage in risky behavior such as gambling and substance abuse
- Experience sleep depravity
- Have a decreased sexual drive
- Experience shortness of breath and heart palpitations
- Have sudden panic attacks
About half of all the men experiencing these symptoms have partners who have perinatal depression and anxiety. However, this is not the only predictor. There might have been such occurrences in either their personal or family history, which have surfaced after the birth of the child. Also, it can be attributed to fluctuating hormones and sleep deprivation. Lower levels of testosterone may also make them vulnerable to depression. Whatever the cause may be, it is of utmost importance to face the situation and deal with it in order for the family to function at its best. There are numerous ways in which fathers can ease the transition into fatherhood.
Talk with your partner
This is something your partner needs to hear first. The nuclear family is affected the most by this kind of behavior but is also the source of biggest support. Tell your partner how you feel, and since they are experiencing similar or the same challenges, they are most likely to understand and be there for you. Together you can arrive at a solution that might not be as unattainable as you might have thought at first. Better time management, occasional date nights (spending time together is vital even if it is in your living room with a good movie and a glass of wine), plans of excursions or trips in the near future, or just a good cry will definitely allow you to let out some steam. Should you wish to try a therapy session, you may wish to take your partner with you.
Share parenting duties
Sharing this way will definitely boost your levels of confidence and dwindle the feeling of isolation. Also, it will bring you and your partner closer together in the process of making the arrangements and trying to make it as easy as possible for one another. You might even arrange some time for yourself when you can spend an hour or two enjoying your favorite activity without having a guilty conscience.
Talk to a professional
If necessary, talk to a professional. There’s no shame in seeking this kind of help whatsoever and after a while, you will feel like you’re getting your energy back and a grip on your own life. Talk therapy and medications can truly do wonders for the overall health of the whole family.
Take care of yourself
Regular exercise, eating well, getting enough sleep (making a functional arrangement with your partner actually makes this possible), and finding ways to reduce stress will help enormously. Find some time to go back to some of your old hobbies or go and see your friends. You might not have as much time for it as you used to, but it’s still something to look forward to.
Although difficult and demanding, the newborn phase doesn’t last forever. The child grows rapidly and all your troubles are soon forgotten once you get some rhythm back in your life. In the meantime, help is available and there is much support around you. All you need to do is open up and ask.