You’re settling into life as a new parent and all the changes that come after a baby has been born. Within the first year of a baby’s life, one in ten dads will suffer from postnatal depression. You might feel overwhelmed at first or start to feel low after a few months and most dads will suffer in silence because they feel ashamed about feeling depressed.
The seemingly endless feeds and sleepless nights can soon catch up on you. Some dads feel that they don’t know how to support their partners and feel useless to them, with most often feeling like they can’t connect with their baby in the same way that ‘mum’ can.
Speaking to dad of one-year-old Leo, Dylan Yarborough opened up about his experience and how postnatal depression affected his life.
Dylan said he was delighted after the birth of his son and felt like he was ‘on cloud-nine for weeks’. But when his son was five weeks old, he started having severe chest pains and was advised to go straight to A&E.
After some tests, he was given the all clear and was asked a lot of questions about his general health and lifestyle. Dylan explained that he was under a lot of pressure from university deadlines and didn’t know how to support his partner who he could tell was struggling a bit.
The doctor then told him he had suffered from an anxiety attack and would be referred to his GP to see his doctor so that they could help Dylan and find him some support.
Dylan explained that he was usually a confident and outgoing person and had never suffered from anxiety before, but after his son was born he stopped wanting to see his friends as much. He thought that was normal for a new dad.
He went to his appointment a few days after his anxiety attack and it was then that he was told that he was suffering from postnatal depression.
“I thought that was something only mums struggled with, not dads. I didn’t tell anyone about my diagnosis because it made me feel less of a man. I didn’t think men could struggle and I thought it was just a bit of stress from work and adjusting to life with a newborn.”
Some days he struggled to get out of bed, he said, “I wanted to be the cheerful, loving boyfriend and father that I knew I was, but I couldn’t. I didn’t know why. I just hit a really low point and my relationship and motivation were suffering from it.”
With his permission, the GP set up weekly group sessions for Dylan to attend where he could speak to others with anxiety if he wanted to, and he could also listen to other peoples’ experiences.
“Speaking to someone about my depression and anxiety helped. I didn’t think it would, but it felt good to say what was going on in my mind out loud. I started a new job too and when I came home to see Leo’s smiling face I felt like I mattered.”
A year after his son was born, Dylan said that he has good and bad days: “trying to overcome depression was the hardest thing I’ve had to do but I’m starting to feel more like myself again”
“My commitment and love for my son can never be questioned through my battle with depression, I just felt like I wasn’t doing the best I could.”
Postnatal depression in men is not commonly talked about, but it affects both women and men equally, with some starting to call ‘paternal depression.”
The signs of postnatal depression vary for mums and dads, but if you notice changes in moods or notice common signs, do not suffer alone. Speak to a friend, health professional or your partner about how you’re feeling.
You are not alone and there is always support out there for whenever you may need it.