Explains postnatal depression and other perinatal mental health problems, including possible causes, treatments and support options. Also has information for friends and family, including support and advice for partners.
If your partner is pregnant or recently gave birth, you might feel the focus should be their health. But partners can also develop mental health problems around this time too. This can include feelings of depression and anxiety.
Since it's connected to becoming a parent, some doctors might say you're experiencing postnatal depression - or paternal depression. Others might say the term 'postnatal' only applies if you're the one who gave birth.
But no matter how you label your mental health problems as a partner, you're not alone - and you deserve support.
This page covers:
"Overall it was a horrific time in our lives, for a total of around 18 months from falling pregnant to coming out the other side, which really put a massive strain on our relationship. Looking back, I'm not sure how we managed to get through it all."
There are many reasons that you might experience mental health problems while your partner is pregnant or after they give birth.
But these problems are more likely if you:
You might also be coping with:
Your partner may also experience mental health problems during their pregnancy or after giving birth. This can make it even harder for you to cope with the normal struggles of becoming a parent.
Everybody reacts to becoming a parent in different ways. But there are some common signs that you may be experiencing a mental health problem. These include:
These experiences can be very hard to cope with - but with the right support it is possible to manage these feelings.
There are a few different ways that you can get support for your mental health:
You can talk to your doctor any time. This includes when your partner is pregnant or after your child is born.
Your doctor can refer you to local support services or talking therapies. They could also prescribe you medication for your mental health.
There are several organisations who specialise in helping and supporting partners during this time:
See our useful contacts page for other organisations who may be able to help.
There are a few different ways that you can look after your own mental health if you are feel like you are struggling. See our page on ways to look after your mental health when becoming a parent for ideas that may help.
We also have pages about different types of mental health problem that you may experience. These pages include specific self-care tips and treatment and support options.
This information was published in April 2020, and amended in April 2022. We will revise it in 2023.
References and bibliography available on request.
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