Guest Blog - “How Are You, Dad?”

 

I recently had the pleasure to meet Dr. Jill Satin and Dr. Samantha Waxman of the Well Parents Centre and they are doing some really great work with parents and wellness with regard to mental health. Jill wrote a posting that she shared with me and I am excited to share on my own platforms!

 

It can be very challenging to find the right resource or fit for therapy. I believe that finding a therapist that you trust and feel you can connect with is the most important component in your search. If you or a loved one are experiencing any mental health distress, then there are are many options out there for you. Myself or the Well Parents Centre are both great options if you are wanting to find support. 

 

Watch for future collaborations between Alexander and the Well Parents Centre and read their article below! It is really great information. Thank you for writing and sharing, Jill! 

 

 

 

Can fathers experience postpartum depression and anxiety? Absolutely. About 10 percent of fathers experience depression in the first year after delivery [1] and anxiety problems may be even more common [2]. Yet, research shows that signs of postpartum depression in fathers are often missed. The public has gained awareness of the signs of postpartum depression in women, but less so in men [3].

 

Cases of postpartum depression and anxiety go undiagnosed and untreated. This is one of the reasons we called our clinic The Well Parents Centre. All parents are vulnerable to mental health challenges and deserve to feel better.

Fathers may not experience the profound biological changes that come with pregnancy, childbirth, and lactation, but they do experience a profound life change. Any major life event, whether perceived as positive or negative, can leave us vulnerable to experiencing mental health challenges. Amazingly, fathers actually do experience hormonal changes that we take for granted. Men experience a drop in testosterone when they become fathers, and the drop is more significant if they are more involved in child-rearing [4].

 

Let this research finding sink in: Up to fifty percent of male partners of depressed mothers are depressed themselves [5]. Put another way, if you take a random sample of women with postpartum depression, half of their male partners are depressed too. This is not a female problem. This is a family problem. Even a societal problem.

 

By addressing their mental health and well-being, fathers can be more involved in child-rearing in the early years and beyond. The benefits of having an involved father are huge. Think better school performance [6], higher self-esteem [7] and fewer psychological problems in girls and behavioural problems in boys [8].

 

So what can we do? We can ask  a new dad how he is doing and really listen. We can shift away from thinking that a new dad is support staff for a new mom and baby. We can communicate caring for him in his own right. He too is transitioning into his new role as a parent, or as a parent to an additional baby. Health professionals can also start regularly screening new fathers for depression and anxiety and offering appropriate mental health support. It will help fathers, which will benefit the whole family. We need to create the conditions for fathers to open up about their mental health, knowing they will be taken seriously and without judgement.

 

The Well Parents Centre is for all parents. Please reach out if you need support. We understand that fathers have unique challenges. We offer individual psychological therapy as well as couples therapy to help you feel better and parent better.

 

References

[1] Paulson JF, Bazemore SD. Prenatal and Postpartum Depression in Fathers and Its Association With Maternal Depression: A Meta-analysis. JAMA. 2010;303(19):1961–1969.

[2] Leach, L. S., Poyser, C., Cooklin, A. R., & Giallo, R. (2016). Prevalence and course of anxiety disorders (and symptom levels) in men across the UIKeyInputUpArrowperinatal period: a systematic review. Journal of Affective Disorders, 190, 675-686.

[3] Swami, V., Barron, D., Smith, L., & Furnham, A. (2019). Mental health literacy of maternal and paternal postnatal (postpartum) depression in British adults. Journal of Mental Health, 1-8.

[4] Gettler, L. T., McDade, T. W., Feranil, A. B., & Kuzawa, C. W. (2011). Longitudinal evidence that fatherhood decreases testosterone in human males. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(39), 16194-16199.

[5] Goodman, J. H. (2004). Paternal postpartum depression, its relationship to maternal postpartum depression, and implications for family health. Journal of advanced nursing, 45(1), 26-35.

[6] Jeynes, W. H. (2015). A meta-analysis: The relationship between father involvement and student academic achievement. Urban Education, 50(4), 387-423.

[7] Deutsch, F. M., Servis, L. J., & Payne, J. D. (2001). Paternal participation in child care and its effects on children's self-esteem and attitudes toward gendered roles. Journal of Family Issues, 22(8), 1000-1024.

[8] Sarkadi, A., Kristiansson, R., Oberklaid, F., & Bremberg, S. (2008). Fathers' involvement and children's developmental outcomes: A systematic review of longitudinal studies. Acta paediatrica, 97(2), 153-158.

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