When a baby is born, most of the focus (when it comes to parents) is on the mother. That’s natural, and even most fathers understand that. After all, mom just did a lot of work to bring a new life into the world!
When things start to settle down a bit, that focus tends to remain on the mother and the new baby. It’s not that dads get ignored, but we don’t often associate dads with parenting anxiety.
Fathers are, indeed, at risk for developing anxiety and even depression after a baby is born.
Many contributing factors can lead to anxiety in new dads. Let’s look at some of the contributing factors, as well as some of the common signs and symptoms. When you realize that you (or your partner) might be struggling with new dad anxiety, you can take the necessary steps to get help.
Are You at Risk for Anxiety?
Some fathers will naturally be more susceptible to anxiety than others. There are several risk factors to consider, even before your child is born, and some after. Some of these include:
Having a history of anxiety or depression
A lack of emotional support
Partner having a difficult pregnancy
Health issues with the baby
Parenting is different than your expectations
New dads might also have a harder time bonding with their baby, which can lead to feelings of anxiety.
What Are the Signs?
Keep in mind that it’s normal for new fathers to feel some stress and feel anxious at times. Almost everyone does with a new baby in the house. Unfortunately, that can sometimes make it hard to spot the more severe symptoms of anxiety.
Be on the lookout for any of the following:
Worries that you can’t control
Fear about the baby’s health or your partner’s health
Easily irritable or on edge
It’s essential to recognize the differences between handling the stress of a new baby and letting anxiety take over your life. If you allow anxiety to take over, it will likely become even worse. That’s why, more often than not, treatment is needed.
How Can Fathers Get Help With Anxiety?
Many new dads choose not to seek out help for anxiety because they feel embarrassed or somehow emasculated by it. There is nothing wrong with getting the help you need. When you do, you’ll be able to be a better father and a better partner.
If you’re struggling, one of the most natural things you can do is to talk with your support system. Family members and friends are great resources and can be there for you in your time of need. Even just expressing your feelings to people you trust can help to ease the symptoms of your anxiety.
Dads struggling with feelings of anxiety often benefit from therapy. A therapist can help you work through the specifics of what is triggering those anxious thoughts. Once you get to the bottom of those triggers, you can start to work on managing your symptoms.
Being a father is one of the greatest experiences you’ll ever have. It’s okay to be excited and to adore your child, and still be anxious. You don’t have to feel ashamed, and you certainly don’t have to deal with it alone.
To read more about how counseling can help you feel more like yourself again, please click here.
If anxiety has consumed your life (or your partner’s) for long enough and you are ready to get help, please contact me. I offer a complimentary phone consultation to all potential clients. To schedule yours in a matter of seconds, please check here.
We can navigate your issues with anxiety together so you can have a better handle on your symptoms. As a result, you’ll be giving your anxiety less power, so you can spend more time enjoying your life with your new baby.
COMING SOON! A workshop for couples who are thinking about or planning to have a baby, who are expecting a baby or who have children already. Based on years of research and experience and developed by the Gottman Institute, this 12 hour workshop is designed to repair communication skills and jump start your relationship with your partner. For more information, please click here.
Jennifer Perera is a mom, spouse and Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has over a decade’s worth of experience in mental health. She has a private practice in New Jersey, with locations in Cranford and Princeton. Her passion is helping new moms and dads find their joy again in parenthood through individual, group and couples counseling. Jennifer specializes in working with parents during the prenatal and postpartum periods and those coping with a pregnancy loss or infertility. Her other passion is travelling to different parts of the world and her goal is to vacation in a different locale every time. She also has a great fondness for cats!