Having a baby is a wonderful and life-changing experience. Unfortunately, the stress it brings can also expose parents to a number of emotional challenges. Only in recent times has postnatal depression (PND) been recognised as an issue for new dads too. One of the reasons I set up fathers Reaching Out in 2011 was to highlight many issues surrounding many fathers worldwide. After going through this illness myself in 2004 with my wife I know struggles many families have to take during this time.
We also need to highlight other areas for dads like Anxiety. Similar to Postnatal Depression it may start off as moderate anxiety, gets worse or continues for more than two weeks or it is starting to affect your life. You can have this type of illness before the birth or at any time in the first year after giving birth. It is advisable for any man experiencing extreme anxiety especially if your life is affected to seek professional help. We need to educate fathers about these issues during anti-natal classes, before the illness manifests. Education and awareness was one of the reasons I set up Fathers Reaching Out due to the fact I didn't have a clue about mental health at a young thirty years of age. Think of the young dads of 16 coming in parenthood and how they may feel being told that they're to young anyway.
We need education and campaigns to have families to seek professional help and ignore the stigma of this illness that effects one in ten fathers. What about fathers and OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder).Some fathers may also experience postnatal OCD because of their feeling of responsibility to protect their new baby, a strong indicator that hormonal factors are just part of the story.
Fathers Reaching Out was set up after my own experience and after speaking to well over six hundred fathers over a four year period, also found other issues that had to be highlighted. This is where Dads Matters UK and Dads Matters Worldwide was formed and feel that it's important to educate and make awareness for dads and perinatal mental health. Dads Matters is not my story and experience it's the brain storm of the six hundred fathers that has opened up to me suffering in silence.
The other trigger-points can hit men just as easily as they hit women - things such as issues in their past life which come to the surface when a baby is born; feeling isolated; having had IVF treatment; and being under financial pressure. The men I see with PND are more likely to have partners with Postnatal Depression like myself. We also need to highlight families who go through trauma at birth, which can led to PTSD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) at the birth for fathers.
So if your a new father or a father to be and very concerned about yourself or your partner, please do me one thing today make the appointment with your doctor. The reason why??? Well it's a simple message "The quicker the help, the quicker the recovery"