Men’s Health: Calling All New and Expecting Dads

July 03, 2024

Last month we celebrated the fathers in our lives, but it’s not always easy being a dad, especially for those unaccustomed to the role. Studies show 10% of new fathers experience depression symptoms after the birth of a child. These symptoms can manifest in many forms, including anxiety, difficulty sleeping and irritability.

dad smiling and holding newborn on his arm

Andrew Migliaccio, MD, medical director of Memorial Healthcare System’s Outpatient Behavioral Health Center, explained that many fathers face an increased risk for symptoms of anxiety and depression leading up to and after the birth of a child.

“Some men will find it challenging to open up and discuss difficult feelings, but going through stressful periods in life can exacerbate emotions, especially if they remain hidden. It is incredibly important that men suffering from symptoms of depression reach out to obtain help and support. Life changing moments, like the birth of a child, can be overwhelming, so make sure you look after yourself and those around you.”

Becoming a new father is an incredible experience, but it can also bring about a range of emotions and challenges, including those related to mental health. Here are some pieces of advice that might help:

  • Communicate: Talk openly with your partner about how you're feeling. Sharing your thoughts and concerns can alleviate some of the stress and make you feel less alone in your experience.
  • Seek Support: Don't hesitate to reach out for help if you're struggling. This could be from friends, family, or even a therapist who specializes in postpartum mental health. If you're experiencing persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, or hopelessness, or if you're having trouble functioning in your daily life, seek help from a mental health professional.
  • Take Care of Yourself: Self-care is essential. Try to get enough sleep, eat healthy, and make time for activities that you enjoy. Physical activity can be a great way to improve your mood and reduce stress. Try to incorporate some form of exercise into your routine, even if it's just going for a walk with your baby in the stroller. Alcohol and caffeine can affect your mood and exacerbate feelings of anxiety or depression, so keep it to a minimum.
  • Connect with Other Fathers: Joining a group or finding other new dads to connect with can be incredibly beneficial. Sharing experiences and advice with others who are going through similar situations can provide valuable support.
  • Be Patient with Yourself: It’s okay to feel overwhelmed at times. Be patient with yourself and give yourself permission to make mistakes.

If postpartum depression affects you or someone you know, don’t wait to seek help. Talk to your doctor or call 911 immediately if you experience an emergency or crisis.

For non-emergencies, talk to your healthcare provider or text the Postpartum Support International (PSI) HelpLine at 1-800-944-4773 in English or 1-971-203-7773 in Spanish. The PSI HelpLine operates daily from 8 am – 11 pm EST.

You can also visit our Maternity Classes and Support Groups page to sign-up for our prenatal, labor and delivery, and postpartum classes and free support groups.