Dads can suffer from postnatal depression too … but they just don’t admit it’
Posted by: Sue Atkins
Today I’m delighted to have Mark Williams as my guest writer raising awareness of depression in fathers.
It follows on from his article in today’s Daily Mirror
Here is Mark’s story.
‘The birth of a couple’s first child is billed as one of the happiest moments in their life.
But, for thousands of women the arrival of their first born can trigger a torrent of negative emotions, tears plunging them into post-natal depression.
Today one father has revealed he too suffered the debilitating condition, in the wake of his son’s traumatic birth.
Mark Williams, 40 said he was left feeling suicidal and gripped by depression as it emerged new figures show one in three new fathers are plagued by the condition.
Both Mr Williams and his wife Michelle, 37, suffered crippling anxiety after their son Ethan was born in 2004.
Perinatal Mental Heath can involve ante-natal, baby blues, post natal depression (PND), postpartum (puerperal psychosis), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in relation to bringing a child into the world.
‘I was convinced both my wife and baby were going to die.
‘Then, once I was home I couldn’t stop feeling anxious about whether I’d be a good father. I became so exhausted looking after everybody.’
After being discharged from the Prince of Wales Hospital in Bridgend, South Wales, and going home to start their lives as new parents, Mrs Williams began to spiral into a deep depression.
Mr Williams said on some days, his wife would be unable to leave her bed.
ONE IN THREE NEW FATHERS SUFFERS FROM ‘BABY BLUES’, STUDY FOUND
A third of new fathers now suffer from post-natal depression, a study has found.
The ‘baby blues’ affects around 70,000 women every year, but the number of fathers being diagnosed with depression is growing.
The extra emotional and financial responsibility takes its toll, especially when combined with a lack of sleep, the National Childbirth Trust said.
And they say men are even more likely than women to bottle up the depression and anxiety.
It is estimated around half the women who suffer post-natal depression do so in silence.
The two-year study also found nearly three quarters of dads worry about their partner’s mental health.
Mark Williams, founder of support group Dads Matter UK, launching on Father’s Day on Sunday, said: ‘For every mother suffering post-natal depression there’s a father potentially going through the same.
‘Health professionals need to support families as a whole.
‘The quicker the help, the quicker the recovery.’
Desperate, he decided to give up work for six months to focus on caring for his family full-time.
But, with no money coming in, the financial strain the couple were under began to cause a rift in their relationship.
‘Because I’ve always worked, I struggled to cope with giving it up,’ said Mr Williams.
‘All I wanted was for my wife to get better, and the stress of not knowing if she would was difficult to deal with. I felt guilty and isolated.
‘My friends had no idea. I couldn’t speak to anybody so I started using drink to block things out.’
Though never formally diagnosed, Mr Williams believed he was suffering with post-natal depression alongside his wife and in 2011 suffered a breakdown.
Eventually, Mr Williams was put on medication and given a course of cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness.
Now, the couple are closer than ever and say they share a fantastic bond with their son.
Mr Williams has since dedicated his life to working in mental health, founding group Fathers Reaching Out for men supporting a partner with postnatal depression.
Mark will launch Dad’s Matter UK for men who are suffering mental health problems before and after the birth of their child.
Depression can hit up to around one in five fathers by the time the child reaches adolescents. In a published report in 2015, it states that at least 10% of fathers will suffer with PND, which can include the birth itself and up to a year after. Fathers can develop lots of complications in PND, and can influence their daily lives as well as affect their role within their family unit. It can impact heavily on their relationships, financial stability alongside life style and emotional states. Emotional problems and psychological health needs, are crucial elements to PND in Fathers and needs to addressed. Fathers tend to get forgotten at this important and life changing event of having a baby, with Mother and child being the centre of care delivery. Fathers often get pushed aside which can result in feelings of isolation, anxiety and confusion.
We know that services in women’s health have developed screening for expectant Mothers and offer support to those who are identified as being at risk of developing PND after the birth of their child.
Dads Matter UK is suggesting that the health service needs to develop a process for the screening and detecting of PND in fathers. As many fathers, the figures suggest, suffer with PND post birth of the child. The birth of a new baby can cause problems such as poor sleep, anxiety and stress. This can lead to problems within the relationship and fundamental communication processes within that relationship. At Dadsmatteruk we are primarily concerned with the health of the father and their families. We feel that PND in fathers is equally significant and requires important consideration when implementing strategies and screening tools for PND. Fathers suffering with PND can feel increasingly pushed out and unsure of their role within the family thus affecting the bonding and attachment process between father and child.
Screening is important for men, as they are less likely to seek help and support. Particularly, in relation to their health problems. Due to the associated stigma towards mental health and its associated issues, young fathers are even more likely to be at risk and not seek the help they need. Men are often reluctant to admit that they may have an emotional problems or are un likely to admit to feeling out of control. If this is area of health is not addressed adequately this could lead to further breakdowns in the family structure and have long lasting devastating outcomes for our children.
For more information go to http://www.reachingoutpmh.co.uk