Perinatal mental health for dads

✦ November celebrates lots of different things: Movember and men’s health, perinatal mental health wellbeing, as well as World Kindness day. In this article, we bring them together to talk about perinatal mental health for dads.


Postnatal blues affect men too


So often when we hear about postnatal depression, it’s usually about the mum’s. How they are going, and what’s happening for them. But did you know that dads can also have postnatal depression? Yes, that’s right.



Up to one in ten men can experience depression, either during their partner's pregnancy through to one year after the birth.

Up to one in six men can feel heightened anxiety during pregnancy, and this can continue into the postnatal period also. And half of fathers are not aware that men can also experience this anxiety and depression – it’s not just the mums.


What does this mean?


Many fathers live with unrecognised stress, anxiety or depression. For dads with an existing diagnosis of anxiety, depression or other mental illnesses, these can be exacerbated by the pressures of parenting.


There are expectations on fathers to provide support to the mothers both during pregnancy and after the baby is born. And this expectation is increased when mothers have postnatal depression. When dads also have perinatal anxiety or depression, it can be hard for them to provide this support, which can then lead to relationship stress and potential breakdown.


Research has shown that dads with perinatal anxiety or depression can react to this stress by resorting to physical parenting disciplinary methods or spend less time doing activities with their infants or children. This in turn can affect the infant’s long-term emotional growth and wellbeing. As a result, dads can feel they are alienated, from both partners and their children, and not be the fathers they imagined they would be.


How might you know you are NOT OK?


The list below is some of the thing’s fathers might feel if they have anxiety or depression. If you experience any of these things, talk to your doctor or seek help.

  • Feeling constantly tired

  • Sleep difficulties (trouble going to sleep or waking in the night)

  • Changes to your eating (not eating or eating too much)

  • Not being interested in things you usually take pleasure in

  • Feeling emotionally isolated from your partner, baby and family or friends

  • Worrying about something happening to your baby or partner

  • Being less interested in intimacy or sex

  • Feelings of self-harm or suicide


How can dads look after themselves better:

  • Firstly, be aware that dads can have perinatal/postnatal depression and anxiety too.

  • Talk to your GP or another professional if you are worried. This will help you feel supported and your GP/Professional will help you find the best support for you.

  • Tell you partner about your feelings – both of you are the team leaders for your family and its' wellbeing.

  • Find support for yourself from other dads who have been through it – some areas have specialised father support workers. Your local Community Health Centres and community organisations are the best place to find out about these.


Get help or support from online organisations: