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Thursday, 17 March 2011

Mental Health Interview and Fathers issues

I was fortunate to make contact with the lady in charge of MIND.Emily is the mental health officer who deals with postnatal depression issues in Lincoln.She has set up a mothers group who meet regularly to discuss their various issues and to provide support for each other. During her interview she brought up some very interesting points about men and how Postnatal Depression effected them.Women who are going through this condition are given help in coping but often the effect on the women's partners can be just as devastating. It can lead to what could be termed 'Male Postpartum Depression'
Having a new baby creates lots of strain on family life especially on the male partner if he is still going out to work each morning. Not many men can sleep through the cries of a new baby, even if they are not physically having to get up in the middle of the night and feed them and so they can feel exhausted all the time. This can cause friction with their partners who are also sleep deprived. If their partners have PND the implications and practicalities of this can be overwhelming. A lot of men also feel great guilt about missing the milestones in a baby's life due to them being at work.
The man can feel stigmatised and isolated. There are still lots of traditional stereotypical beliefs that the man is the male protector, the provider and therefore he sees himself as failing if he cannot create this perfect family unit. This can all lead to a physical depression.
There is also the idea that some men are 'hard' and they don't talk about their feelings.These men find it difficult to get any support. Most men feel unable to talk about their partners problems as they don't really understand what is going on themselves. 
The physical changes in a man's lifestyle can also lead to depression. If a man is used to having hobbies and playing sport a number of times a week and this is suddenly replaced by nappies and teething it can lead to a very stressful situation. 
If the man's partner is suffering from PND all of the above effects can be multiplied tenfold.
When there are other children needing to be looked after when a woman is suffering from depression it can have dramatic and disastrous affects on the family dynamics and the financial stability of the family too. Often the partner will have to give up his job to act as a carer, even if this is a temporary situation.
 I think that this is quite unexplored territory and it would be interesting to look at Postnatal Depression from the male perspective.

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