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Wellbeing and Mental Health

There is often a lot of information available talking about women suffering from postnatal depression and/or anxiety (1 in 5 women), however men can also suffer following the birth of a child. In fact, statistics show 1 in 10 men suffer so it’s important to talk about this issue and get support if you think you might be suffering from depression and/or anxiety. It is important to note, men and women may also suffer depression and anxiety during pregnancy.

As a parent it is important to take care of yourself both mentally and physically as this has benefits for yourself and your children. When you are not feeling your best it’s difficult to be the parent and partner you want to be.

Adjusting to life with a new baby is not easy, but you aren’t alone. It can be difficult to speak up and ask for support and you may not recognise that you are suffering from depression or anxiety. Apart from talking to your partner, you may find it helpful to talk to other dads around you either at work, in your family or new connections you have may have made since becoming a parent. You may find that talking to other dads helps to normalise and understand some of the feelings associated with this time.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if I'm depressed?

This is a great question as it isn’t always easy to work that out. Some symptoms are:

  • Not bonding with your baby
  • Feeling hopeless or numb
  • Having trouble thinking clearly
  • No energy
  • Can’t be bothered

If you are experiencing one or more of these symptoms for more than a couple of weeks, then it is a good idea to have a talk with your doctor.  You could also take the online Beyond Blue stress test to help you be more aware about the specifics of what you are thinking and feeling to help you have a clear conversation with your local doctor.

Karitane Tip: If you have a mental illness or past history of depression becoming a new dad may increase your stress requiring you to seek support sooner rather than later. It is important to keep a look out for the warning signs for yourself and listen to people that care about you if they are saying they are concerned about how you are coping.

 

Is feeling anxious normal?

Being a new parent or facing a significant time of change as children and family life changes can be more stressful than other times.  Stress and anxiety are similar in that you may notice symptoms of stress and anxiety often show up physically:

  • Increased headaches, sweat, speech or breathing
  • Worrying thoughts which are hard to stop or control
  • Often anticipating ‘what if’ concerns about baby or pregnancy or life in general
  • Feeling restless or on edge
  • Feeling tense, jittery or agitated which sometimes leads to tight chest or palpitations

It can be normal to have stress for immediate concerns or worries such as being a new dad and not feeling confident about how to help care for your baby or juggle work and family demands. Stress can be a good motivator to take some action and get things done such as learning how to bath a baby - the first couple of times can be stressful until you get experience and feel more confident. However, prolonged stress is not helpful such as losing your job, having to find a new place to live, having a chronically sick child or relationship breakdown and aggression.

What can I do if I feel anxious?

Experiencing an anxiety disorder can contribute to prolonged stress in the body and is worth doing something about.  If you have any of the symptoms of stress or anxiety above, for more than a couple of weeks it is worth talking to your doctor.  You could also take the online Beyond Blue stress test to help you be more aware about the specific of what you are thinking and feeling which can help you have a clear conversation with your local doctor.

It is important to notice your stress and do something about it even if you can’t change the circumstances very quickly, you can do something to calm yourself and reduce your physical stress regularly and daily. Some healthy ways to reduce stress are:

  • Meditation
  • Deep breathing
  • Exercise
  • Gardening
  • Listening to music
  • Reading a book
  • Talking to a mate 

It doesn’t have to be for long periods of time, even 5 minutes of stress reducing activity at least once to several times a day can significantly reduce your stress.

Karitane Tip: If you have a mental illness or past history of anxiety disorder becoming a new dad may increase your stress requiring you to seek support sooner rather than later. It is important to keep a look out for the warning signs for yourself and listen to people that care about you if they are saying they are concerned about how you are coping.

Where can I get support?

Talking to your local doctor can be very helpful. They can help you decide what might be the best plan for your situation. There are also some good Australian websites that can help you make better sense of where you are at, coping as a dad and what you can do about it.

 

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