I have a question for you. Could your partner be depressed? A recent study has noted that as many as 5-10% of dads become depressed following the birth of their children and remain in a depressed state sometimes until the child goes into kindergarten! Even more alarming, young dads-men who become dads in their 20′s-are at increased risk of becoming depressed and have a 68% risk of increasing depression for the first 5 years following the birth of their children.
This is really sad to hear. At a time when we would expect joy, many men are experiencing sadness/depression. The researchers who are reporting this work in the May 2014 edition of Pediatrics, Craig Garfield, MD, Associate Professor at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine and Eric Lewandowski, PhD, Clinical Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychology at NYU Langone Medical Center, say that there is so little data upon which to draw that much more research needs to be done to figure out is this more prevalent in younger men because they feel ill equipped to be fathers? Are they stressed out about providing for their families? Are they worried about finances? The reasons are likely multifactorial and the truth is that we really don’t have any of these answers. We also don’t know if these rates hold for dads in their 30′s, 40′s or beyond. Again, much more research needs to be done.
I Wrote a blog several years ago about depression in dads and in that post shared some signs and symptoms of depression in Dads. It is critical that depression in dads be identified and treated as dads’ interaction (or lack there of) with their children can have long lasting developmental effects on the child.
Having a baby is a major life changing event and while the focus of this website is on mamas, we have to be aware of the fact that the birth of a child affects everyone-mamas, dads, siblings and even pets! The addition of a new family member completely alters the family dynamic such change needs to be acknowledged and supported for all family members.
So keep this information in your memory bank. I hope that you won’t need it, but if you do, I hope that it will help you to find the support and resources that you need to help the man that you love.
If this blog helps you, please be sure to let us know in the comments section below. If you have a resource to help dads, please share it in the comments section. If you have a question that you would like to submit privately, please send it to email@example.com
Young Dads at Risk of Depressive Symptoms, Study Finds. MedlinePlus
Top of the morning Mamas!
Today I’m going to suggest you take a walk on the dark side. Lately I’ve been worrying about something and that worry has translated into sleepless nights, trouble concentrating and being more than a bit snippy with my kiddos. I finally called a girlfriend the other day and told her what was going on. She already knew about the issue that was worrying me, but did not know how much it was interfering with my daily functioning. Since my friend is a life coach, she took me through this exercise which I am going to share with you today.
This exercise is exploring What’s the worst that can happen? I suggest that you do this exercise with a partner. This can be your spouse, a friend, a family member…with whomever you feel most comfortable. I say “most comfortable” because you must be able to be really transparent with your feelings with this person-no holds barred so to speak. How the exercise works is you share with your partner your greatest fear about some issue going on in your life. Then, you and your partner create a counter argument as to why your greatest fear likely won’t happen. Finally, you two will brainstorm what you could do if your greatest fear actually were to come true.
Why do an exercise like this? Primarily, because the scenarios that our minds create about situations in our lives are far more dramatic than what would actually happen. When we are afraid, our minds create all kinds of mayhem around situations and in a sense feed our fears. In this exercise, taking a hard look at these “fictitious” outcomes and with our partners refuting how they are not likely helps ease our fears.
So that you can see how it works, I am going to do an abbreviated version for you. Let’s say that the issue is you have an incompetent cervix and you are worried that you are going to lose your baby. The issue isn’t just that you are worried you are going to lose your baby. The issues are also that you really want this pregnancy and this child and the future that you see for yourself, your partner and your family. You may have already picked out names, purchased furniture and made special preparation. So losing this baby would not only mean losing the physical being, but also all the hopes and dreams associated with this little one. (Hang on, this gets better, I promise!)
Now with your partner, list all the reasons this is not likely to happen. Here’s what your list may look like:
1. I have a cerclage and my doctor said it was easily done, done properly and in perfect position
2. I am now on bedrest and although not fun, being recumbent takes the pull of gravity off my cervix relieving any potential pressure
3. I am _____weeks along and every day that I remain on bed rest is a day more mature my baby becomes.
4. My baby is moving about happily and content within me.
5. My last doctor’s exam showed that everything is okay (i.e. my cervix may have shortened, but is holding steady at___mm; the baby is growing and developing perfectly normally; I have no spotting, bleeding, cramping, etc….)
6. I have family and friends to support me
You see where this is going? These are just the first thoughts that came into my head. I am sure you’ll have more and I recommend that you really personalize the answers. Hopefully your partner will really dig with you for the goodness that is going on right now so that you can see the silver lining in this cloud of darkness.
“But what if the worst happens? What if I lose my baby?”
I totally hear you! I lost my first pregnancy so soon after realizing that I was pregnant I really didn’t have time to get too attached-yet I was still devastated. However, I became completely unglued when I lost my second pregnancy. After my first miscarriage we learned that my fibroids were making it nearly impossible for me to carry a pregnancy to term. So I had them removed and then had my daughter. I thought I was home free! The second miscarriage was a blow from left field in my mind. I had done everything right. I had had a baby. How could this happen?
With your partner, I am going to ask you to go to that dark place, the worst case scenario. I invite you to cry and really give into your emotions and LET THEM OUT!! When we are chronically upset and especially when we’re holding things in, our bodies are releasing cortisol and adrenaline and neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) that are keeping our bodies in “red alert mode”. This more detrimental to our health than the actual impact of the negative event! When we have the negative event, we go through the process of grieving and processing the event and then onto resolution. When we are simply in “red alert mode”, we don’t process, we don’t move through and we keep out bodies in stress. In this state, we can actually bring about that which we are most afraid of happening! So again, talk about what it would be like if the worst were to happen, you actually lost the baby. Who would you tell? Who would be available for support? What would you want to know from your doctor? Would you want to try to get pregnant again? What are your chances of having another miscarriage? What would you need to do in between pregnancies to optimize your chances?
See where this is going? You are taking action. You are actually being proactive and hence taking control of your situation. So rather than feeling like a “sitting duck” waiting for the worst to happen, you are ready. As Dr. Jennifer Gunter so eloquently stated, “Prepare for the worst, but expect the best!”
To this end, I also strongly suggest that you have a candid talk with your health care provider about your fears. Sometimes what we are thinking is so far out of line with reality, it helps to have an “expert” reign us in with the facts. Also, if your fears are founded, again, take a proactive stance and get all the information, support and resources you can to help your situation.
I know that this is not an easy or pleasant topic, but it is necessary. It’s not okay for you to be on bedrest stressed out, not sleeping and essentially worrying yourself into the worst case scenario. Please, please, please, dump your doubt! Perhaps you and another mama in our community would like to pair up and support one another?? Who knows better what you are going through than another Mama on Bedrest? What better way to strengthen your ties in our community?? And remember, if you cannot find a partner to speak with, you can take advantage of the Free 30 Minute Bedrest Breakthrough Session with me!!
Questions? Comments? If you do the exercises, please be sure to share your results in our comments section below!!
It’s video Wednesday!! In today’s vlog post, I discuss and offer tangible ways that loved ones can help Mamas on Bedrest & their families. This post was actually inspired by a “former” mama on bed rest who delivered, but now her little one is in the NICU and she has 4 other children at home. As you can imagine, she is one busy mama!! I have no doubt that friends and family members are standing at the ready to help, but some truly may not know what to do. So in this vlog, I give some very specific things that they can do. This is by no means exhaustive, but a great place to start to help a mama and her family in need.