By Emily Fitzgibbons

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A Priory psychiatrist has said that anxiety and depression among new dads is not uncommon.

“I think the big issue for men is to take their stress and low feelings seriously and be able to recognise it’s really happening and they are not alone. Men often feel anxious and out of control and sometimes they can feel empty as well as side-lined when it comes to emotional support after having children, as they worry about managing on a single income, pressures on their relationship, bonding with their child, and all the while having to cope with seriously disturbed sleep.”  – Dr Hayley van Zwanenberg, clinical director of the Priory’s Wellbeing Centre in Harley Street, central London.

The Priory Group, which runs the largest independent network of mental healthcare hospitals and clinics in the UK, is calling for greater recognition of the emotional issues faced by new dads. Its Harley Street clinic has a family service which treats Paternal Post Natal Depression among other mental health issues.

One in 15 men believed they were suffering from Paternal Post Natal Depression, although only 2% were officially diagnosed.

Two in five men (42%) who experienced depression or anxieties did not seek help, saying they were too embarrassed and ‘thought they should be happy’.

Nearly 70% of men felt there was ‘still a stigma’ around PND, saying society might view those who suffered from it as ‘inadequate’ parents.

Nearly half of men and women (47%) said there was not enough support for new fathers experiencing difficulties adjusting to parenthood, and nearly 80% of men and women said fathers were ‘forgotten’ in discussions about PND

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According to researchers, paternal postnatal depression (PPND) affects around one in 10 fathers, and its effects on the dad can be as devastating as that suffered by women. The BBC recently interviewed men who talked openly and honestly about their own experiences of postnatal depression.

“Parental depression can have a serious impact on children’s behaviour and development so it’s vital we widen access to help for it. We must also support those men who are most vulnerable, such as young fathers. There are lots of factors which can contribute to depression – worries about your new responsibilities, your loss of freedom, money worries and worries about managing on a single income, worrying whether you will be a good father, and, if your wife has PND, you might feel more prone to depression too. Men aren’t always encouraged to talk about their feelings or share their fears. Unfortunately, bottling up your emotions or trying to lose yourself in drink or work increases stress. Although it may be hard at first, try to talk to your partner. Talk about the changes in your lives and see if you can find ways to support each other. You could try talking to a family member or friend about anything that’s worrying you. You’re more likely to get a clearer perspective and the support you need to feel better if you talk to a professional. If you have serious depression you may:

feel exhausted and anxious
be obsessed with finances
begin to withdraw from your family
be irritable or intolerant
sleep badly.”
Dr van Zwanenberg

The Priory Group has opened the latest in a series of high-street Wellbeing Centres, designed to help people gain quick access to mental health treatment in and around their times of work. The new central London clinic (located on Harley Street, W1) offers a family service for those suffering moderate postnatal depression and other issues such as stress following the birth of a baby. Psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists also treat a wide range of other general mental health issues such as stress, and addictions. Its family service offers psychological support and counselling to those trying for a baby as well as those with antenatal and postnatal depression and anxiety. Priory has Wellbeing Clinics in Birmingham, Southampton, Canterbury, Norwich, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Greater Manchester, Oxford and London (Fenchurch St) as well as Harley Street.


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