Perinatal anxiety and depression in dads:-
Tiredness, headaches and pain
Tiredness, headaches and pain
Irritability, anxiety and anger
Loss of libido
Changes in appetite
Feelings of being overwhelmed, out of control and unable to cope
Engaging in risk taking behaviour
Feelings of isolation and disconnection from partner, friends or family
Withdrawal from intimate relationships and from family, friends and community life
Increased hours of work as a part of the withdrawal from family
Increased use of drugs or alcohol instead of seeking treatment for depression
Some men may not be able to identify any of the risk factors in their lives yet still develop perinatal anxiety and/or depression. This can affect men of all ages, personality types and economic status. Some of the known risk factors associated with paternal perinatal anxiety and depression include:
Partner experiencing postnatal depression
Previous history of depression
Relationship problems and conflict
Feelings of incompetence in parenting role
First time father
The factors that affect men can be very similar to those affecting women, such as:
Lack of social and emotional support
Personality characteristics (perfectionist or controlling)
Stress and changes in relationships (particularly the couple relationship)
Lack of sleep
Unresolved issues of grief and loss
Difficulty adjusting to the changes of parenthood
Unmet expectations of fatherhood and himself
Negative or traumatic birth experience – the way in which men experience childbirth may have some influence on their subsequent emotional well-being
As with all forms of anxiety and depression there are a range of biopsychosocial factors that can contribute to the development: some physical, some emotional and some social. Some factors may be similar to women experiencing perinatal anxiety and/or depression and others may be related to the man’s experience of pregnancy and new fatherhood.
Factors may include:
The impact of changing social roles for fathers in the family
Norms and attitudes toward fatherhood and masculinity – men are less likely to talk about how they feel and maintaining that they are coping is very important
Change in family dynamics so that some men may feel excluded from the parenting role or from the relationship with their partner. This may result in resentment towards the baby.
Worries about extra responsibilities, financial burdens and managing the stresses of work.
Unmet expectations for the resumption of the sexual relationship in the early postnatal period
Pregnancy, particularly early on, appears to be the most stressful period for men in the transition to fatherhood. This may be due to the changes in his partner’s body, how supported and included he feels, concern about the pending changes to his life and even feeling unsure about his role in caring for his partner.
Partner experiencing perinatal anxiety and/or depression. Studies have shown that maternal and paternal anxiety and depression are highly correlated (Ramchandani et al, 2005; Meighan et al, 1999). The extra pressures of managing a new baby, an unwell partner, additional household duties and work demands can contribute to fathers developing it themselves.
Deloitte Access Economics (2012) The Cost of Perinatal Depression in Australia.
Davey, SJ., Dziurawiec,S, Brien-Malone, AO. (2006). Men’s voices: Postnatal depression from the perspective of male partners. Qualitative health research.
Meighan et al, (1999). Living with postpartum depression. The father’ s experience. American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing. 2494): 202-208.
Bielawska-Batorowicz, E, Kossakowska-Petrycka, K. (2006). Depressive mood in men after the birth of their offspring in relation to a partner’s depression. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology.24(1). 22-29.
Condon, JT, Boyce, P. Corkindale, C. (2004). The first time father’s study: a prospective study of the mental health and wellbeing of men during the transition to parenthood. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 38(1-2), 56-64.