Having a baby is a major life change, and many men find becoming a father more difficult than they thought it would be. Adjusting to changes in the relationship with their partner, and changed lifestyle can lead to stress, anxiety and depression.

New dads can feel pressured, anxious, sad, irritable, 'stressed', angry, bored, lonely and generally dissatisfied with their 'new' life. It's often difficult for new dads to keep up with what they think is expected of them, and this can lead to very high levels of stress. 

The onset of these feelings usually begins sometime in the first year of a baby's life and family and friends may or may not notice that the man is struggling- sometimes men keep this to themselves, perhaps thinking that they are meant to 'be strong'. 

This type of ‘post-natal depression’ may also be experienced by new mothers.

Who experiences postnatal depression and why?

 It's estimated that at least 1 in 10 men experience some form of emotional difficulty following childbirth.

Health professionals still really do not understand fully why some people experience postnatal depression and anxiety and some do not, but some risk factors that have been identified through research include:

  • A personal or family history of depression or anxiety

  • A history of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse

  • Relationship difficulties with partner or family

  • The recent experience of a stressful life event (such as moving house, losing a job, a death in the family, divorce or separation etc.)
  • Poor support from family and friends

  • Witnessing a traumatic birth experience (such as an unexpected c-section, a very short or long labour)

  • Having a ‘difficult’ baby 

  • Having a partner who is also struggling with the transition to parenthood

  • Having a baby with some sort of medical or physical problems

These are some risk factors that have been identified, however some men may have all of these risk factors and not experience perinatal depression or anxiety,  and some men may not have any and still experience PND.

If you're not sure what is going on for you, make a time to have a chat with your GP or visit Beyond blue dad advice