I’ve written quite a bit about my own personal journey through anxiety and depression – my diagnosis, my therapy and my recovery. You can read about it here, here and here if you missed it. But there is more than me in this scenario. Let’s Talk About Papa Bear.
Paternal Postnatal Depression is a very real and prevalent condition in our society but many are not aware that Dad can in fact suffer the same as Mum with postnatal depression.
In light of Mental Health Awareness Week I wanted to bring this condition to the forefront on the offchance that you know someone who may be suffering. Sometimes that person may not know or understand what it is they are going through.
Papa Bear has suffered postnatal depression after the birth of both of our girls. The first time round, we put his low mood and erratic behaviour down to the incredible upheaval and exhaustion a newborn manages to bring into the house with them. But as time progressed and his symptoms changed but never left we assumed it was mild depression.
Life settled down as Little Miss got older and we found a balance. And almost as soon as he found himself again, he was knocked for six when Little Bean arrived last year. This time I was diagnosed with postnatal depression and anxiety and the symptoms were far too similar for us to ignore. It didn’t take a psychologist for us to realise what he was going through.
Because I was able to relate to and understand what he was going through, we instantly recognised that postnatal depression in dads is a very real thing. Ordinarily, new parents would put a change in mood and low feelings down to the effects of having a baby but this isn’t the case.
Dad’s need to talk and open up about how they are feeling once baby arrives. Yes, mum may be the one who suffered pregnancy and birth but this life changing moment has a dramatic effect on dad. Papa Bear has found talking to be the best medicine and even though he hasn’t sought out a therapist as I did, he is improving. While life has it’s ups and downs and curves and ditches, he is finding his way out of this as I have (three months without an anxiety attack FYI!).
Please remember Dad. Remember that he too may be struggling, may be overwhelmed, may not know what the hell he’s supposed to be doing or why he feels so shit.