The transition to parenthood is a very important life event for everyone. It is a complex process that requires adjustment to the profound changes in a person’s lifestyle, relationships, and identity. Sometimes, a new parent may have difficulty coping with this transition, which leads to psychological disturbances like Postpartum Depression (PPD).
Postpartum Depression (PPD) is a mood episode that happens either during pregnancy or after pregnancy. It is characterized by the following symptoms:
- persistent sadness
- low esteem
- sleep & appetite changes
- suicidal ideation
PPD is usually known to be associated with mothers, affecting 10 to 13% of women worldwide. It makes it difficult to take care of oneself during and after pregnancy. It also makes it difficult for the parent to cope with the normal developmental tasks of child care.
But did you know that Dad’s get affected by PPD too?
Recent studies have shown that 8% of fathers suffer from postpartum depression. Of course, the experience of PPD is different for mothers and fathers. It usually manifests in dads through the following symptoms:
- anger attacks
- affective rigidity
- alcohol & drug abuse
- bowel problems
- increased or decreased appetite
Parenting stress is influenced by the role of the parent, the parent’s expectations and perceptions of his or her child, the parent’s characteristics, and the parent’s interaction with the child. A combination of biological, psychological, and social factors distorts the parent’s adaptive reaction to stressors and makes them more vulnerable to PPD.
Mental health issues in parents have been known to negatively affect children. It is also known that when a mother is severely depressed, the risk for paternal depression increases. However, it is also said that fathers could increase the risk of maternal depression if they are depressed or absent.
Clearly, parenting is a team effort that requires both parents to support and help each other during this challenging time.
So what can we do?
INVOLVE AND SUPPORT FATHERS.
Partners, friends, support groups, & mental health professionals can support & help struggling dads to find meaning, contentment, & pride in their new roles as well as cope effectively with their anxieties & doubts.
Involving dads in childcare gives them the opportunity to enjoy and appreciate being a father. They gain a new sense of meaning and satisfaction in being a father when they are regarded as more than just the breadwinner of the family. Spending time with children, caring for them, playing with them, and interacting with them can also be very healing and can give parents a lot of emotional benefit.
Involved and supported dads are also beneficial for the whole family. Involved dads can help children with academic problems and protect them from developing behavior problems. They also become emotionally healthy and are more able have a lasting positive impact on their children’s emotional well being. Children benefit from fathers who are able to model and handle emotions effectively.
Emotionally healthy fathers also improve their partner’s mental health. Emotionally responsive and supportive fathers have partners who are less stressed, anxious, and depressed. This can be very helpful especially for mothers who are experiencing postpartum depression.
Provide support by reaching out to struggling parents and listen to them. Show that you are there for them and willing to support them in their times of trouble.
If you are a parent experiencing PPD, know that you are not alone. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Allow yourself time to adjust to the new changes in your life and give yourself space to relax. It is important to always remain healthy and to create a support network that you can rely on. Being a parent is a challenging task and it is normal to be anxious and scared of this new chapter in your life.
If you are struggling with the challenges of parenthood or know someone who does, you may need to reach out to a friend or a professional counselor.
PowerVision provides Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) or workplace counseling services to companies and organizations in the Philippines. We help employees of our client companies deal with personal and work-related issues that impact their performance, such as the challenges of parenting and parenthood.
- Epifanio, M. S., Genna, V., De Luca, C., Roccella, M., & La Grutta, S. (2015). Paternal and Maternal Transition to Parenthood: The Risk of Postpartum Depression and Parenting Stress. Pediatric Reports, 7(2), 5872. http://doi.org/10.4081/pr.2015.5872
- Cameron, E. E., et al. (2016). Prevalence of Paternal Depression in Pregnancy and Postpartum: An updated meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders, 206, 189-203. DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2016.07.044