Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Men don't understand postnatal depression

Post-natal depression, like most forms of depression, is a topic few people talk about. Beyondblue the national depression initiative has discovered men actually know very little about Postnatal Depression (PND).

According to the new study, fifty per cent of men believe women get postnatal depression because they have unrealistic expectations of motherhood and 25 per cent of men believe having PND is a normal part of having a baby. A whopping 28 per cent of men think that PND will go away as the baby gets older compared to 17 per cent of women.

Likewise 24 per cent of men believe that looking after a baby comes naturally to women, while only 14 per cent of women thought this was true.

Deputy CEO of beyondblue Dr Nicole Highet says the recent research indicates men need more information about mental illness during pregnancy and after the birth of the baby – especially ante- and postnatal depression and anxiety.

Depression and anxiety are not a ‘normal’ part of parenthood, they are illnesses – but with the right treatment, most people recover.

To help address this issue beyond blue and Ngala have launched a booklet HeyDad – Fatherhood – first 12 months, aimed at increasing awareness around issues new parents are likely to face.

“This booklet will get critical information to new dads during this important stage of their lives – the advice and practical tips are invaluable. New parents often get used to the symptoms and signs of depression and anxiety - such as lack of sleep, irritability and the inability to cope – and too often it’s put down to the ‘baby blues’ and treated as if it’s a normal part of parenthood,” Nicole says.

Ngala CEO Rae Walter adds: “The whole family is affected when one member of the family has depression or anxiety. Ngala encourages parents to seek support and work as a team to minimise the impact on their children.

“Early brain development, changes in relationships, the importance of attachment, play, sleep and breastfeeding are all issues that fathers may not have explored before the birth and this booklet provides a ‘toolkit’ to help new families manage change.”

Find out more about the booklet here.

It really worries me that there has been two major studies released this week showing how widespread and misunderstood depression and mental illness can be. Have you experienced a mental illness in your life and if so how did you deal with it?

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