If your partner is pregnant or recently gave birth, you might feel the focus should be their health. But partners can also develop mental health problems around this time too. This can include feelings of depression and anxiety.
Since it’s connected to becoming a parent, some doctors might say you’re experiencing postnatal depression – or paternal depression. Others might say the term ‘postnatal’ only applies if you’re the one who gave birth.
But no matter how you label your mental health problems as a partner, you’re not alone – and you deserve support.
Signs and symptoms of mental health problems
Everybody reacts to becoming a parent in different ways. But there are some common signs that you may be experiencing a mental health problem. These include:
- fear, confusion, helplessness and uncertainty about the future
- guilt, for example because you weren’t the person who had to give birth
- withdrawal from family life, work and social situations
- frustration, irritability, cynicism and anger
- hostility or indifference to your partner
- hostility or indifference to your baby
- using more alcohol or recreational drugs than usual
- finding it hard to sleep, even when you have the chance
- physical symptoms like indigestion, changes in appetite and weight, diarrhoea, constipation, headaches, toothaches and nausea.
These experiences can be very hard to cope with – but with the right support it is possible to manage these feelings.
Support for partners
Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich (BLG) Mind – Being Dad
BLG Mind’s free Being Dad group helps men learn more about looking after themselves, managing the changes and challenges of parenthood and supporting their partner. The sessions also offer an opportunity to meet other dads.
Bromley Being Dad groups are free for men who live in Bromley borough and:
- Are expectant dads
- Are new dads with a child under two years old or
- Are male caregivers such as a grandparent of young children up to the age of two.
Stay-at-home, working, adoptive and foster dads and step-fathers are all welcome.
Mind – mind.org.uk
BLG Mind’s Being Dad – blgmind.org.uk/bromley-mental-health/being-dad