Depression in new fathers connected to relationship insecurities
One of the subjects that has been the subject of numerous studies in recent years is postpartum maternal depression. It affects around 10-12% of new mothers, but it also affects new fathers with at least 8% of cases. As far as the father is concerned, this theme is rarely discussed, while this phenomenon of postpartum depression concerns almost as many fathers as mothers. Lund University in Sweden conducted a study showing that postpartum male depression is more common in men who are insecure in their relationship with their partner.
How to detect paternal postpartum depression?
Men rarely open up about their feelings, so it is often difficult to detect postpartum depression in them. Opportunities to talk about it are also rare besides the fact that they don’t dare talk about it. Since it was their partners who did most of the labour during the birth, the man does not feel comfortable to complain and does not feel justified in feeling unhappy.
Symptoms of depression may vary from person to person, such as feeling extremely sad and empty, chronic fatigue, insomnia or hypersomnia, loss or increased appetite, anxiety, loss of interest in daily activities, loss of sexual desire or various physical disorders such as headaches, pain and intestinal discomfort. When living with these symptoms, it is common for a very sharp drop in our self-esteem to occur, to the point where extremely negative thoughts about us are common.
“Having a negative view of oneself, one’s own characteristics and abilities, while valuing other people highly often leads to a constant worry about not being good enough, about disappointing others and — potentially — losing them,” says Elia Psouni, registered psychologist and associate professor of psychology at Lund University in Sweden.
As a result, the father will believe that he has failed as a father and as a man and will not be up to the task to provide for his family.
Where does this relational insecurity come from?
People tend to think of their partner’s actions and words as the root cause of relationship insecurity however that feeling comes from us. It can appear very early in life, for example with a precarious relationship with parents, it can also be caused by a feeling of previous rejection or injuries from people you have loved. Relationship insecurity are generally thoughts that can be called non-rational fears. These thoughts are for example: we aren’t good enough in life, we won’t find someone better to spend our life with, or we don’t feel like we can be loved.
Regarding the couple relationship, the man will have doubts about his wife’s affection. He will wonder if his wife will still love him after giving birth to the child, if she will love her child more than her husband, if their intimate relationship will still be the same as before despite the fact that they have a baby. All of these doubts can cause emotional turmoil in men and can lead to low self-confidence and other feelings of worthlessness.
“Low self-confidence in close relationships seems to trigger parental stress, which in turn triggers the symptoms of depression,” says Elia Psouni.
How to overcome paternal postpartum depression?
Overwhelmed by the fear of not being up to the task, the depressed father feels guilty and questions his abilities as a good father. This postnatal depression is a reality that must be taken seriously, especially since the father is often ashamed and does not dare to broach the subject, preferring to withdraw into himself.
We can get through this and here are some suggestions that can be done to overcome postpartum depression:
- Get sleep:
It can be difficult with a new baby, but sleep should be a priority. Maybe you are wasting time on things like watching TV or being on social media and this can be replaced by a good sleep time.
- Feed your body well
You need to stop eating junk food. What you put in your body absolutely has an effect on how you feel. You might have a temporary fix or a pleasure from eating some of the foods, but in the long run it won’t suit you. Make sure you are eating healthy.
- Reduce or Stop drinking alcohol
Alcohol is a depressant. If you reduce your alcohol intake, you will feel better physically and emotionally, and your mood will improve as well. So, maybe you think these beers relax you or make you feel good but they have opposite effects so you have to reduce your alcohol consumption or even better to stop it.
- Fill your mind with positive messages
If you can focus on putting uplifting and motivating messages in your mind, you will be better off. Listen to motivational podcasts, watch motivational videos on YouTube, listen to motivational speeches. You’re going to want to do these things every day and put positive messages in your brain.
- Practice gratitude
Whether you use a gratitude journal and write things down or use a gratitude app on your phone, you’re good to go. But practicing gratitude is a regular thing, it’s a muscle you need to build. It’s so hard to be depressed when you’re grateful, but you always have to practice because it’s not something that happens overnight.
- Get support
Rely on your wife, family and friends, a local support group, or even an online support group. Realize that it’s okay for you to ask for help. It doesn’t make you less of a man, it doesn’t have a negative effect on you at all. Get the support that you need.
- Get a professional help
Even if you feel you can tackle paternal postpartum depression on your own, seek a professional therapist or psychologist. They may be able to help you get there faster. Postpartum depression in men deserves special attention, we all want to be the best for our families, so have no fear, you have to act. Any kind of change requires action.
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