Seeking help early leads to a faster recovery. Men who have experienced symptoms for two weeks or more should be encouraged to seek help. Strategies and treatment options available for fathers who may want to investigate symptoms further include;
Contact PANDA for support, information and referral to services for men experiencing postnatal depression;
Visit your doctor for a full medical and mental health assessment;
In some cases the doctor may suggest antidepressant medication to help reduce some of the symptoms. These are effective for many people, especially in conjunction with counselling and are preferable to the use of alcohol or illicit drugs. Your doctor, pharmacist or a drug information helpline will be able to provide more information.
Ask your doctor for a referral to a psychologist or psychiatrist who specialises in perinatal anxiety and/or depression. You may also be eligible for Medicare rebates.
Seek extra support. Go along to your baby’s next maternal and child health nurse appointment and discuss your situation with the nurse. She may be aware of other local services.
Support groups. It is very common for women experiencing perinatal anxiety and/or depression to attend support groups. These groups can be immensely beneficial but there are very few groups established for men. It might be worth alerting your community health centre to this gap or talk to PANDA about setting one up in your area.
Seek emotional and practical support from your partner, your family and friends, your work colleagues, anyone who is willing to help. The nature of depression will probably mean you feel isolated and alone. Asking for help, talking things through, even just spending more time with the people you love can help you to re-connect with your positive feelings again.
Lastly, be kind to yourself and remember you are not alone. There is help available and with the appropriate treatment, you can begin to feel better and enjoy being the father you want to be.