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Study reveals dads can get postnatal depression too

The National Childbirth Trust, the U.K.’s largest charity for parents, has revealed that 38 percent of new dads experience mental health issues following the birth of their child.

The NCT study also found 73 percent of them have concerns about their partner’s mental health.

“There are all sorts of reasons why men suffer mental health problems after the birth of a child,” said Mark Williams, founder of education and support group Dads Matter UK. “Some suffer from postnatal depression themselves whilst others get downcast because their partners have mental health troubles. I suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after seeing my wife’s distressing birth.”

Father-of-two Adam Davies told Sky News that he was diagnosed with depression after the birth of his first child but that he was initially too ashamed to admit to his feelings.

“At the hospital it was a good experience, going to visit my wife and child, but when they came home after a couple of days things changed,” he said. “I found it very difficult, I started to find myself getting very detached from my daughter, to the extent where I didn’t enjoy spending time with her at home and I’d often find excuses not to come home.”

Mr. Davies said he bottled his feelings up and sometimes felt like he did not “want to wake up in the morning.” Almost a year later he finally broke down in front of his wife and told her that “something was seriously wrong” with his mental state.

More: What it’s really like to withdraw from antidepressants

Medical professionals are now increasingly recognising that postnatal depression and other perinatal mental health issues can be experienced by men as well as women.

NCT wants to raise awareness of perinatal depression among fathers and encourage men to speak out and get help.

If you are worried about the mental health of a man in your life sharing the following NCT tips with him might help:

  • Share your feelings with people you trust. This could be your 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 seek help from your GP who can help you to access support services.
More information is available on the NCT website. The Dads Matter UK website, with education and support for dads with perinatal mental health issues, launches on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 21.

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