Live Better

Shedding light on postnatal depression in men

Postnatal depression affects 1 in 10 new dads. We explore the common symptoms and how to seek help

Have you just become a new dad? Then you’re probably experiencing a dramatic shift in your lifestyle right now as you adjust to having a tiny new human around. While plenty of this is new and exciting, pregnancy and birth can also stir powerful and unexpected emotions, in both men and women.

Postnatal depression affects 16 per cent of all new mothers, and is a condition which is becoming increasingly recognised and discussed. However, what’s far less talked about is that new fathers can develop the condition as well. In fact postnatal depression can affect up to one in 10 fathers.

Recognising the symptoms

It’s important to remember that life with a newborn can leave one or both of you feel tired and flat some days. This is to be expected as you both get used to a new way of life. Postnatal depression is more serious, and is characterised by symptoms that last longer than two weeks. These can include:

  • Physical signs: Lethargy, headaches, overeating or loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, and weight loss or gain.
  • Feelings and emotions: Unexplained sadness, guilt, shame, anger or anxiety. You might feel overwhelmed or out of control, and find less pleasure in things you used to enjoy.
  • Changes in relationships: Feeling disconnected from your partner, family and friends. You may be ignoring or not returning phone calls, or just want to be left alone.
  • Changes in behaviour: Unable to concentrate or carry out everyday tasks. You may be spending more time at work or using alcohol as a way to cope with how you’re feeling.

MORE: Learn more about knowing the signs of postnatal depression.

Are some men more at risk than others?

It’s difficult to say exactly what causes postnatal depression. The new pressures of fatherhood, financial strain, lack of sleep, a changing relationship with your partner or a traumatic birth can contribute to new fathers experiencing postnatal depression.

What’s more, some men will find they’re more likely to develop symptoms of postnatal depression if their partner is suffering from the condition, or if they have a family history of depression.

Another risk factor is having a strained relationship with the baby’s mother through the pregnancy.

MORE: Learn more about identifying depression in men

What should you do if you’re suffering?

If you think you may be showing signs of postnatal depression, don’t suffer in silence — speak to a loved one or your doctor. Alternatively, you can phone beyondblue on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Perinatal Depression and Anxiety Australia (PANDA) also has a website ‘How is Dad Going’ which is dedicated to providing emotional and mental health support for new and expecting dads.

Either way, just remember — the sooner you recognise the signs and treat symptoms, the better you’ll feel in the long run.

At Medibank, it’s not just your physical health we care about. Your mental health matters, too. If you’re looking for more information on mental health and the health issues that matter most to young people, click here.

Latest Articles


Should you run during pregnancy?

Largest ever study on running in pregnancy. Read more


A letter from your newborn

This is what your newborn would say if it could talk. Read more


My IVF story

One mum’s story of what it’s like to go through IVF. Read more


Understanding cord blood

Donating cord blood: What you need to know. Read more


Expert advice for prenatal massage

Expert advice on massaging your pregnant partner. Read more

youtubeui-checkbox-tickui-checkbox-emptyui-checkbox-crosstwitterui-checkbox-tickPage 1Group 10Group 9Group 2sign-up-userArtboard CopyArtboard Copy 15Artboard Copy 3Artboard Copy 4Artboard Copy 8Artboard Copy 17Artboard Copy 9Group CopyArtboard Copy 6Artboard Copy 7Artboard Copy 18Artboard Copy 10Artboard Copy 2Artboard CopyArtboard Copy 5Page 1Artboard Copy 12Artboard Copy 16ArtboardArtboard Copy 13Artboard Copy 14Artboard Copy 11np_phone_503983_000000download_red4xdownload_red4x copyArtboardmember-offer-starLogoMedibank - Logo - ColourOval 5lemon-speechInstagram iconicon-editdownload_red4x copygive-back--spinesgive-back--moneygive-back--massagegive-back--likegive-back--jointgive-back--emailgive-back--dislikedownload_red4xdownload_red4xGroup 5filter-iconfacebookShape Copy 2Mobile Navcheckcarret-upcarret-rightcarret-leftcarret-downGroup Copy 2Group 17arrowarrow-circleanimated-tick