Postnatal depression, the state of mental distress following childbirth, is often associated only with new mothers. Arising as a result of hormonal changes, adjustments to life with a child, and fatigue, the state can occur anywhere from one month, to one year after the baby is born, and it’s reported that 1 in 7 Australian women are affected.
While the condition is normally associated with new mothers, scientists from the Indiana University have identified that the incidence of postnatal depression among men is almost as high as among women.
According to the results, 4.4 per cent of fresh dads experience depression, when compared with 5 per cent of new mums. To reach the results, researchers gathered data from 9500 new parents over a 15 months trial period. All parents had children aged 15 months and under.
Although the measurement of results are very subjective, they have shed some light on a huge potential risk factor to men’s mental health, especially when going through major life changes such as having a child. It was previously believed that less than half the amount of men suffered from postnatal depression when compared to women, however the findings highlight that many cases have most likely gone undiagnosed or untreated.
According to a range of sources, including the Australian government and mental health support services such as beyondblue, postnatal depression can manifest itself differently depending on the individual.
Some common signs and symptoms include a low mood, feelings of inadequacy as a parent, hopelessness, exhaustion, anxiety, trouble sleeping, excessive worrying, fear of abandonment and fear of socialising.
While depression doesn’t discriminate, beyondblue suggests that the risk of depression is higher among parents who have been depressed before, have limited support systems, experience a difficult birth or infancy for their child, have a history of substance abuse, and are under financial stress.
Health Direct recommends a range of treatments for postnatal depression, including counseling, psychotherapy, group treatment, support groups, and medications such as antidepressants if necessary.
If depression is affecting you or someone you know and you need someone to talk to, please do not suffer in silence. Support is available:
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
Beyondblue: 1300 224 636