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Men and Postnatal Depression

On the 7th September 2010, the UK Medical Research Council and University College London carried out a study into the depression in both men and women once a baby is born until the child is 12 years old. It showed that 21% of Dads had a depressive episode, and the highest risk being in the child's first year.

Symptoms for dads with postnatal depression

Possible Causes for dads with postnatal depression

If the mum is suffering from postnatal depression, it can then impact on the Dad causing them to also have a depressive episode. When there is a lot of pressure financially, emotionally and physically on the Dad this can cause excessive stress which can then lead to depression. Dads are at a higher risk if they have previously suffered from depression earlier in life.

A considerable factor can be that the balance and focus has shifted in the relationship, all the attention in now taken up on the baby, resulting in not much time as a couple. Also if it is a single Dad, having the full responsibility of caring for a new born baby with no support from a partner or the Mum.

Dads and Postnatal Depression

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“I didn't know that men could be affected by their partner giving birth never mind getting postnatal depression”

About Fathers Reaching Out

Fathers Reaching Out was founded in 2011 by Mark Williams, he set up the organisation after going through the illness himself. In 2004 he found that there was no help for his wife Michelle and even less for himself. He made the very hard choice of giving up his job to help care for his family. Mark found that at the age of 30 he didnt know anything about perinatl menatal health or mental health in general. He found him self slipping in to a form of depression we now call dads and postnatal depression. He suffering very badly with this for the first year of his sons life and carried on suffering in silence for many years after. Mark decided to help not only men, but to raise the awareness of this illness in the whole family.

Below is a video he has made

“Depression is an illness and people shouldn't be afraid to talk about it.”

“I used to pretend to everyone that everything was alright.”

I strongly feel that even though there is more support now for women in this situation there is not much support for men. Recently, by chance I started speaking to a man who was going to a postnatal group. He had been through a difficult time and said that he felt there was not allot of support for men. I decided to see what was available now for men in this position and found that not allot had changed, there was still not much support for men. I couldn't believe, when talking to this man how much we had in common. We had both been in the same situation and I thought how much it would have helped me if I could have spoken to someone like him at the time that we were in that position. He opened up and talked to me about what he was going through. This is the reason why more support groups for men are needed. Men don't talk about their feelings and shouldn't be afraid if they need help.

Having gone through this difficult time and come out the other side. I feel this experience has made me a better person. I now understand more about mental health and feel that I am in a position to help others. I am now working in the mental health sector and feel it's time to help others. I hope this support group and network will help others. In 2012 I was awarded Inspirational father of the year and Local hero at the Pride of Britain awards. I turned a negative time in my life into a positive one and know you can do the same with support and education about this illness that effects millions around the world...  

Winston Churchill, who also suffered depression, once said "If you're going through hell, keep going". You will come out the other side. If you are in this position and need help or have been in this position and would like to help, please get in touch. We need people who have been through this to help others through this. Remember once you do start talking about it, you be surprised at the people who have gone or are going through it now.

The depression got so bad that she had to go back and fore the hospital. I went from a social person to living in a bubble. I couldn't tell my mates as I didn't understand depression so how were they going to understand. I was afraid of what people would say. I was one of the people who dismissed mental health, but now it was part of my life. I soon had to go on leave from being a self-employed sales person to look after my wife and my lovely son. I had to look after the household tasks and bills which would normally be done by my wife. I found the isolation unbearable, I used to pretend to everyone that everything was alright. My mother-in law came to stay with us to help out, we also stayed with my parents sometimes. At one point I went off the rails, once I knew my wife and son were safe with family. I honestly felt like running away from the pressure cooker that I was living in 24 hours a day.

In the coming months many things happened. Once I broke my hand punching the sofa. We tried many therapies to help my wife get better. At that point we would have tried anything, money didn't matter. I remember saying that we would sell the house, so I could stay off work longer. We look back now and know if we are having a bad day it can never be as bad as what we witnessed, trust me. Sometimes we would avoid going home in the day, we found it better being out and about.

Depression is an illness and people shouldn't be afraid to talk about it. My wife didn't ask for it, our life was great. It happened like a switch going on.

There is a difference between baby blues and severe postnatal depression. There's nothing worse than someone saying, "Oh my wife had that and got over it in a few days" when you have been going through it for months.

My message to everyone who is in suffering from post natal depression is, "Don't suffer in silence". It took about a year for my wife to recover fully. She is a fantastic Mum and my son is fully unaware of the issues we faced when he was younger.

Treatment for dads with postnatal depression

It is recommended that the Dad can speak to their GP and discuss how they are feeling, and be true about the extent of your feelings. Your GP may recommend attending counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help come to terms with your emotions and understand the triggers points if you are feeling aggressive. Your GP can also prescribe a course of antidepressants to help your mood improve.

Support for dads with postnatal depression

Family and friend can play a huge part in helping with recovery, be honest with them about how you are feeling, ask them to look after your baby for a couple of hours to allow you to do an activity you enjoyed previously or socialise with your friends.

You can contact Sure Start who offer support for families, they can inform you of stay and play sessions, and other family groups in your area.

Pandas Foundation offer support for families suffering from pre or postnatal depression, this is through our website, Pandas Help Line, and our UK Pandas Support Groups .

For more information on support that Pandas Foundation can offer See ‘How we can Help’ or on what support is out there go to Support Services

Mark’s Story

Family and friend can play a huge part in helping with recovery, be honest I'm Mark Williams and I'm from a small valley in South Wales. I met my wife in 1997 and we got married in 2003 in Cyprus. At this point we both felt that the time was right for us to start a family. We had both spent time travelling and holidaying with friends and were ready to settle down into family life. In December 2004 my little boy was born. He was gorgeous.

I couldn't believe I was a Dad, it was an over whelming feeling. My wife had been in labour for a long time (20 hours) and eventually had a caesarean. When I was told she was having a cesarean I had a panic attack, something I'd never experienced before. After the birth, my wife was tired and wanted me to stay with her all the time. At the time I didn't find this unusual as I just thought it was normal behaviour as she must have been exhausted and had received allot of drugs. I left the hospital and returned a couple of hours later with a teddy for my son. When I returned my wife was very clingy, which was very unusual. I knew then something was wrong.

We left the hospital after a couple of days and returned home. It was strange being home with a new baby to look after. My wife wasn't herself.

The Health visitor came to visit regularly, she talked to us about postnatal depression. After a couple of weeks it became clear that my wife was suffering from this. She couldn't sleep, didn't want to eat and didn't want any visitors. She was finding it very difficult to deal with everyday tasks.

I thought, she can't be suffering with that, she's always happy, never gets down or depressed. I never really knew much about depression and didn't understand it. I didn't realise how she could be depressed when we had everything. I now realise that it doesn't work like that. Depression can hit anyone. I tried everything to make my wife happy. Whatever she wanted I would buy. I remember walking through the shopping centre saying "you can have whatever you want". All the money in the world wouldn't have made a difference to my wife at that point. Depression is an illness, we had a new house, good jobs, lots of friends and family support yet it still happened. It doesn't matter if you're a millionaire or someone with no money at all depression can hit anyone.