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Dad Opens Up: 'I Assumed Postnatal Depression Was a Woman’s Thing'

“I realized how misguided this myth was after I found myself trapped in a deep hole, without the ability or desire to look up and see the light.”
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By Stephanie Grassullo, Contributing Writer
Published March 7, 2019
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“After all, what does the father have to worry about? It’s not like anything physical happens to him…”

Parenthood is a big adjustment for moms and dads. Although many associate PPD with women, men experience the childbirth complication too. New dad Sean Szeps will tell you a thing or two about that.

The Australian dad opened up about this dark time in his life in a recent episode for the podcast, The Baby Bubble. Like many, he didn’t think dads could be hit with depression after welcoming children into their life. Boy, was he wrong.

“I realized how misguided this myth was after I found myself trapped in a deep hole, without the ability or desire to look up and see the light,” he writes on Mamamia.

Up to 25 percent of dads show signs of depression in the first year of parenting, and it increases to 50 percent when the mother experiences PPD too, according to the AAP. Which is why fathers need to be supported, identified and referred to for treatment too. When Szeps began going to a really dark place, he had no idea what to make of his feelings.

“I didn’t say anything about how I was feeling because I didn’t know what was happening to me. I didn’t know what was normal,” he admits. “Having kids is obviously difficult, so maybe it’s ‘normal’ to cry two or three times a day, for four months straight. Not leaving the house for a week is totally fine, right? And mapping out a plan to abandon your family, change your name and fly to Mexico on a one-way ticket is on every first-time dad’s to-do list. Right?”

Needless to say, depression hit him hard. He remembers not wanting to get off the couch or take a shower, and constantly lived in a state of fear. It also took a toll on his relationship with his husband. “I was, without a hint of exaggeration, in the worst state of my life,” he says.

Lots of people hate talking about their feelings, but sometimes it’s the only thing that’ll help you feel better. Plus, depression doesn’t only affect parents, it can take a toll on kids too. A JAMA Psychiatry 2018 study found a link between postpartum depression in men and depression in their daughters during their teenage years.

In order to be the best parent possible for your little one, you need to be the best version of yourself. So many new parents have gone through the same struggle as you. The fist step to recovery is talking to your doctor and asking for help. Remember, you’re not alone.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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