Congratulations! You're a father! Then it hits you like a brick wall. You've just reached the height of family responsibility. Suddenly you don't feel as happy as you were briefly, and as much as you expected to be. Instead, you feel overwhelmed, perhaps down, and stressed out. You notice that your patience is very thin. A recent study suggests that you may be suffering from depression in your newfound responsibility as a dad.
You're not feeling depressed alone
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago research have gathered data from over 10,000 men who, regularly over a 23-year time frame, were surveyed for symptoms for depression. The study revealed that about one third of the men became fathers, with most of the men doing so in their 20s. Research also concluded that among the men who lived in the same household as their child, depression was up 68 percent during the first five years of their fatherhood. And, the study showed that the men who didn't live with their children, experienced no increase in depression (but that they were less happy to start with). This study was originally published in the journal, Pediatrics.
Here is why you are in a place of dark disposition
Researchers are also pointed out that up to 10 percent of dads suffer from depression. Stress, financial concerns, and declining “me time” that come with fatherhood are the reasons some experts believe create the depression. Other research has proven that these factors can impact a man's satisfaction with life, for fathers as well as mothers, and perhaps even canceling out the joy that new baby brought to their lives.
When dad is sad, the kids can suffer as well. Fathers who are depressed are more likely to disengage from their kids, using more harsh parenting measures, including spanking and yelling. This snowballs for the children potentially into behavior disorders and slowed learning development. In recent years, fathers have begun to take larger roles in childcare, and danger grows, so this makes it even more important for dads who may need help, to get it.
Learning to mend your mood
Keep this in mind dad. You have a lot to be thankful for and you should do everything you can to keep your family safe and protect them. If you and your spouse are doing really well, the chances go way up that your children will do well too. So, if you think depression is in the picture, here's how you can better your situation, and take control of your own mental health:
- Stress management. With a busy lifestyle as a father and provider for your family, at times you will feel burnt out. This is very normal. But, don't let the stress of it all take you down. Make time for yourself to relax and spend a little time doing some things you enjoy and love.
- Get fit! Working out several times a week (at least every other day) can really help you feel your best, both physically as well as mentally. Some research indicates that working out can do more for your mood in the long run then an antidepressant.
- Track your progress. Keeping a record of your symptoms can help you determine what makes you feel your best (or your worst). Be sure to share this information with your doctor on a regular basis, especially if new symptoms develop.