Following the arrival of a new baby, much of the focus is on the mother and the newborn. Recovery from childbirth can be difficult both physically and mentally and the demands of a baby, while exciting, can be challenging. During this time, dads, while not necessarily physically impacted, are affected in other ways. Many people are familiar with postpartum depression in women, but dads can struggle with their mental health too.
According to a study published in 2015, two in five new dads reported concern about their mental health. Lack of sleep, changes in relationships and lifestyle, and new responsibilities were most often to blame. With ample opportunities for mothers to seek help for mental health issues postpartum, men are sometimes left with little attention. Stigma also can be a factor, preventing many men from speaking up and seeking help.
When a dad’s mental illness is untreated, the whole family can suffer. If a man is concerned that he may be struggling with depression, it is important for him to talk about it with his partner and doctor. Acknowledging that there is a problem is a crucial first step. Exercise, eating well, and taking a little time to pursue a hobby can also be helpful. Therapy and medication may be necessary. Finding an effective treatment that works for you is important.
As a dad’s health improves, so will the health of the family. Dads who are more in tune with their own feelings can help their children be as well. Research shows that when fathers are able to handle their emotions, children have improved social skills and emotional intelligence. A healthy relationship between the father and child is important too. A study at the University of Maryland School of Medicine concluded that children who have active fathers learn better, have higher self esteem, and are less prone to depression than those who don’t.
Take time to acknowledge the dads in your life and be on the watch for any symptoms of depression. Men can struggle with mental illness too, but with the proper treatment, can improve. A healthy dad helps to make a healthy family.