New dad raising awareness for postnatal depression in men

A man is calling on medical professionals to recognise the symptoms of postnatal depression in fathers.

Depression after having a baby is common among women, with around one in every 10 mothers experiencing some kind of mental ill-health within a year of giving birth.

It can also be found in fathers, too, but is less commonly recognised.

But now new father Mark Williams is calling for all new parents to be screened for the illness.

His son, Ethan, was born by Caesarean section after an extremely traumatic labour. He said he had feared for his baby and wife. This led to both him and his wife experiencing the symptoms of severe postnatal depression.

“There’s different levels of post-natal depression, and I had to give up work, look after her, the baby,” said Mr Williams.

“My wife is a fantastic mother but obviously she needed that support, and giving up work for six months, no money coming in, mortgage to pay, credit cards, I was starting to get depressed myself.

“And I was worried about her, I couldn’t tell her how I was feeling because I just wanted her to be well, so she didn’t know I was suffering either.”

He said he wants NICE’s guidelines for health workers to be updated to reflect the risk of depression in fathers after birth.

Simon Jones, Head of Policy and Influencing at Mind Cymru, said: “Having a baby is a big life change for both mums and dads. Coping with a major transition can affect anyone’s mental health, especially for new parents who will likely experience difficulties with finances, sleep and relationships with friends and family.”

Dr Sarah McMullen, head of Knowledge at parent support charity, The National Childbirth Trust, added: “New fathers may not have physically given birth, but they are facing a time of huge upheaval – in their relationships, their finances and their home life – and this can and does put enormous strain on them.”

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