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In those hazy, chaotic days following the arrival of a new baby when you just seem to be treading water, both parents may find themselves hostage to a rollercoaster of emotions. Because, for all the joy a baby brings, it's not always purely a time of unbridled happiness.
It can also be an incredibly difficult and emotionally challenging period - for both mum and dad. In fact, one in 10 men will experience postnatal depression , research in the US has found.
Now, with Father's Day coming up, Sarah McMullen, Head of Knowledge, NCT , gives the lowdown on new dads’ mental health, including the signs to keep an eye on and steps to take.
"The increased pressures of fatherhood, changes in relationships or lifestyle and lack of sleep, combined with more financial responsibility and an increased workload at home, may take their toll on a new dad’s mental wellbeing."
Signs of postnatal depression in men
Sarah continues: "Each dad will experience postnatal depression differently but the symptoms can be similar to those found amongst new mums and can include:
"Feeling very low, tired and lethargic; a sense of inadequacy or inability to cope; feeling guilty or unable to bond with their baby; having obsessive fears about their baby's health, or about themselves and other members of the family."
Feeling very low, or despondent, that life is a long, grey tunnel, and that there is no hope. Feeling tired and very lethargic, or even quite numb. Not wanting to do anything or take an interest in the outside world.
A sense of inadequacy or unable to cope.
Feeling guilty about not coping, or about not loving their baby enough.
Being unusually irritable, which makes the guilt worse.
Wanting to cry/crying a lot or even constantly.
Having obsessive and irrational thoughts which can be very scary.
Loss of appetite, which may go with feeling hungry all the time, but being unable to eat.
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Having difficulty sleeping: either not getting to sleep, waking early, or having vivid nightmares.
Being hostile or indifferent to their partner and/or baby.
Having panic attacks, which strike at any time, causing a rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms and feelings of sickness or faintness.
Having difficulty in concentrating or making decisions.
Experiencing physical symptoms, such as headaches.
Having obsessive fears about baby's health or wellbeing, or about themselves and other members of the family.
Having disturbing thoughts about harming themselves or their baby.
Having thoughts about death.
Steps to maintain dad's positive mental health
Share your feelings with people you trust. This could be your partner, family or friends, a health professional or a counsellor.
Try to take some time for yourself by maintaining involvement in hobbies, exercise, or social activities, even an hour here or there can make a difference.
Take some exercise each day, like a walk with the buggy or swimming. Exercise can have a positive effect on mood and sense of wellbeing
Although many new parents experience mood changes or feel down some of the time, you may find that feelings of anxiety or low mood persist.
If you have concerns about your own or your partner’s mental health, it’s best to talk to your GP who can help you to access support services.
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