The Beginning of My Journey – postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety…

Becoming a father was one of the greatest experiences in my life. I remember the first time I held my first born son, and it was very emotionally for a number of reasons (we will get into that another time). But I remember crying when he finally entered into the world. Crying out of relief, frustration, happiness. It was a very emotional time indeed. But there’s many things I wasn’t prepared for.

When you’re preparing to become a parent, people always talk about how it affects the mother and how it’ll change her. You hear very little about the father and how it affects him. I was completely unprepared for it and had no idea what was going on.

Between the anxiety of becoming a new father, the depression caused from losing myself and not understanding what or why; it’s been a crazy few years.

I remember after our first son was born, I couldn’t sleep properly for over a month. Every single night I’d wake up every 20 minutes or so, all night, in a panic. Generally I’d be panicking that I’d fallen asleep with the baby in my arms. I stopped working out altogether, no exercise at all. Which for someone who was a real fitness freak is a big change

My mental health deteriorated quickly, and I didn’t even realise it for the longest time. I didn’t even understand why. I had heard all about mothers with post partum depression and anxiety, all of this stuff about mothers. Doctors constantly checking up on the mother, asking me how the mother was doing. No one checking up on me as the father.

As a father we are just expected to be ok, we are often made to feel like it’s not acceptable for us to not be ok. Whether it’s done intentionally or by accident, that’s how people often make us feel. As a result, as a father we feel as though we aren’t allowed to struggle. You’re constantly being told about the struggles of the mother and how hard it is, the baby is a baby so obviously everything for him/her is a struggle. You feel as though everyone else involved has it much harder than you do.

But that’s wrong…

It took me a few years to truly realise that, to actually accept that father’s struggle a lot as well. But here we are, almost four years after the both of our first son; and finally I’m getting back to being me. A few months after the birth of our third son.

Through the fitness that was once such a big part of my life, I am gradually finding myself again. It was very difficult at first. I had no energy, I had no motivation because I was always so tired. I felt like it wasn’t worth it, and I felt lost. I was confused every day because I didn’t even know who I was anymore. This caused me to suffer from some major depression. I didn’t even understand why I was so depressed for most of the time.

I am going to be taking you on my journey of self discovery, fitness and of self betterment so hopefully other father’s out there understand that they’re not alone.

What is post partum anxiety and depression in men?

Prenatal and postpartum depression and anxiety are among the most commonly mental health issues in new father’s. Research has shown that more than 26% of new father’s experience it. On average studies show that on average 25% of new mothers get postpartum depression or anxiety. Makes you wonder why they only talk about that when the studies show both parents are just as likely to experience it.

Fathers experience biological changes when their child is born as well. An increase in bonding hormones such as dopamine and oxytocin for example, are one such change that happens. This helps us to understand the baby’s cries and bond emotionally with our newborn.

Yet we’re told by society that we have to continue working, trying to make money so that our partners and children can remain in a house. As a father, we are made to feel like we don’t need time to remain home with the baby.

Signs of postpartum depression in father’s…

Signs of postpartum depression in father’s can include the following:

  • Sadness, anger, emotional outbursts or irritability
  • Little interest in doing things; including caring for their families
  • Reduced attention to the babies health and well-being
  • Changes in motivation, energy, sleep and appetite
  • Feeling worthless as a father
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Withdrawal from their relationship with their spouse or child
  • Physical symptoms like a fast heart rate, panic, gastrointestinal distress, headaches and nausea
  • Negative ways of dealing with stress such as drugs, alcohol, gambling or working too much

Symptoms of postpartum anxiety in father’s…

The symptoms of postpartum anxiety in father’s can include:

  • Excessive and persistent worry about their child, relationship and life in general
  • Fears of doom or that something bad will happen to them or their new family
  • Trouble focusing
  • First onset or increase in panic attacks
  • Troublesome or fearful intrusive thoughts

Potential causes of postpartum depression or anxiety…

Social changes

One main cause of these mental struggles is due to the changes in their social lives. They no longer have time for the things or people they used to. Suddenly all of their time is taken by this new family, and when they do have free time they’re exhausted and need a break.

It’s important that we recognize the importance of postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety in father’s. Even with all of the research that has been conducted, society doesn’t seem to take it seriously enough

What has helped…

The biggest help I have had in starting to feel better is having a supportive and understanding wife. She has helped me more than anything ever could.

I have found that getting back into my workouts has helped more than most things. I struggled with it, and honestly, if it wasn’t for my wife I wouldn’t have gotten back into them. She’s given me the support I needed, and even though it’s taken me too many years; I’m now on the mend.

After just one week of working out I already found my energy improving, my moods weren’t constantly so down, my appetite has started returning. It honestly feels good, and I know that any other father’s struggling could do the same…

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