on Perinatal Depression and Anxiety

Both men and women can have perinatal depression and anxiety. Perinatal refers to the time during pregnancy or within a baby’s 1st year. Depression and anxiety are serious but treatable brain disorders that involve many feelings and symptoms

Perinatal Depression & Anxiety in Men

  • This is also called Paternal Postpartum Depression (PPND).
  • 4% to 25% of men will have PPND during this time.
  • Men are more at risk for PPND when:-The baby’s mom is also depressed.
  • He has a strained relationship with baby’s mom.
  • The baby has health problems.-He has a mental health history.
  • Research also suggests a link between depression and low testosterone level in new dads

Perinatal Depression & Anxiety in Women

  • 15% to 20% of women have depression and anxiety during this time.
  • It can develop in women of every culture, age, income level and race.
  • The 1st year of life is vital to the baby’s brain development.
  • A depressed mom may be less able to respond to her baby’s needs.
  • This can cause delays in the baby’s physical and emotional growth.

Depression is a real brain disorder

Symptoms differ for everyone and may include the following:

  • Feeling angry or irritable
  • Lack of interest in the baby
  • Problems eating and sleeping
  • Feeling sad, crying
  • Feelings of guilt, shame or hopelessness
  • Loss of interest, joy or pleasure in things you used to enjoy
  • Thoughts of harming baby or yourself

How can PPND affect the baby?

A lack of interaction between dad and baby could:

  • Increase the chances of behavior issues later in baby’s life.
  • Could delay language development.

Ideas to help baby’s mom

  • Help with housework before being asked.
  • Remind her to take breaks. Fatigue can make symptoms of depression worse.
  • Say encouraging things like, “We will get through this” or “I’m here for you”.
  • Remind her that it’s not her fault.
  • Encourage her to seek support and treatment if needed.
  • Ideas to help yourself

Ideas to help yourself

  • Being a new father may include changes in lifestyle, relationships and financial responsibilities. These pressures added to a lack of sleep, concern for your partner, and more responsibilities at home can spark feelings of PPND.
  • Ask for help. Say yes when help is offered.
  • Develop a support team for your family, including community resources like church, your local recreation center and joining in on local community events.
  • Take some time for yourself.
  • Eat healthy meals.
  • Take a walk or exercise.
  • Talk with family/friends with similar experiences.
  • Seek support and treatment for yourself if needed.