This time last year when we published a post on dads mental health, we talked about the ‘February blues’.
‘February can be a tricky month. On one hand, it is known as ‘the month of love,’ as Valentine’s Day falls right in the middle. On the other, it is well known that many people get the ‘February blues,’ and for good reason with its cold wintry weather and Daylight Savings still a month away to signal longer days.’
2020 – A Challenging Year for Both Moms and Dads
At the time, mention of a new virus was still merely a headline in the newspaper. We didn’t know a global pandemic would arrive, causing lockdowns and economic downturns. We didn’t know the stress of political disharmony would be what it was. We didn’t realize how many communities worldwide would be suffering from severe weather. As a global community, we also felt the pain alongside those struggling under racial prejudice and were woken up to the injustices this presented.
No, this time last year as we published a post on the February blues and mental health, the focus opened with a very simple understanding that periods of extended cold and fewer daylight hours can affect some of us (more commonly known as S.A.D., or Seasonal Affective Disorder).
Over the course of the last year, pregnant women, new moms, seasoned moms, mothers that struggled with pregnancy loss have faced even more challenges than usual. Stay-at-home orders meant milestones and the usual amount of support that a new mom can expect to receive were, for many, reduced. For some, doctor’s appointments may have looked a little different, such as having to choose a birth support partner – between partner or doula. Then there was the question of financial stability in reduced hours at work or job loss, and the anxiety many moms have felt in response to the tensions in the world over the last year. Undoubtedly, many dads would have felt this too, as they supported their partners, and navigated these challenges themselves.
What the Research Tells Us
So today we want to shine a light on dad’s mental health again. Research from McGill University tells us: “… a significant number of first-time expectant fathers experience depression during their partner’s pregnancy.”
Research studies done by our team have found that healthy partner relationships are one of the five major pillars in supporting emotionally healthy moms. To do this we need to start by making sure that the mental health needs of men are also met.
Signs of Anxiety and Depression in Dads
You may be wondering, how do I know if a dad is struggling? To answer that question, we have compiled a list of some signs of anxiety or depression to look out for:
- Fear of being left alone with baby
- Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm
- Excessive use of alcohol or drugs as a way to cope with the stress or escape
- Always feeling tired or exhausted
- Sleep problems unrelated to baby’s sleep schedule
- Increase/decrease in appetite
- Ongoing mood swings, irritability, moodiness
- Feelings of isolation and withdrawing from family, friends and loss of interest in activities
- Obsessive behaviours
- Constant worry, especially for baby’s health/wellbeing
- Difficulty focusing on activities, lowered self-confidence
- Persistent headaches
If you are a dad exhibiting these symptoms for 2+ weeks, or if your partner/friend/family member are exhibiting these signs, please inform your healthcare provider for help. There are also many organizations around the world set up to help dads, some offering online options. Click here for a comprehensive list of resources and organizations that can help.
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