Expecting a new baby can be both a challenging and exciting time for men and women.
Most people are surprised to know that around 1 in 20 men experience antenatal anxiety or depression during their partner’s pregnancy. It is important to know that help is available and the earlier help is sought the better the outcome for the man 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 is doing the hard job of carrying the baby. Mostly 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 expecting dads who are struggling, reaching out to get help can take some courage but this is the most important thing an expecting father can do to support his family.
Signs and symptoms
While anxiety and depression appears differently for each expecting 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 you 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
- Suicidal thoughts.
Treatment for Antenatal Anxiety and Depression
It is really important for an 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 National Helpline 1300 726 306 or Lifeline 13 11 14 (24/7).