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Can partners get perinatal mental health problems?

If you're the partner of someone who's pregnant or recently gave birth, you might feel the focus should be on their health.

But partners can also develop mental health problems around this time. This page has information that can help. 

On this page:

Some doctors might say you're experiencing postnatal or paternal mental health problems. This is because your mental health has been affected by becoming a parent. But others might say the term 'postnatal' only applies to someone who gave birth.

No matter how you label your mental health problems as a partner, you're not alone – and you deserve support.

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.

Why might partners experience mental health problems?

There are many reasons why you might experience mental health problems after your partner has had a baby. 

Some partners talk about these challenges affecting their mental health:

  • Extra responsibilities, such as additional housework or looking after several children
  • A difference of expectations from reality
  • Not feeling as supported or appreciated as your partner
  • Going back to work when you don’t feel ready to
  • Financial pressures
  • A changing relationship with your partner
  • Lack of sleep

Or you might find that there's no obvious cause.

Your partner may also experience mental health problems during pregnancy or after giving birth. These could have an impact on your mental health.

Support for partners

Sometimes you may feel like any support is directed to your partner, and not you. So it can be easy to ignore your own needs.

This can make it feel hard to reach out for help. And could make you feel like you just need to get on with things.

But your mental health is important too. You deserve understanding and support. And there are ways to get help. 

Speak to someone about your mental health

You can always talk to your GP about your mental health. This includes when your partner is pregnant or after your baby is born. Your health visitor is also there for you and your partner.

Your doctor can refer you to local support services or talking therapies. They could also prescribe you medication for your mental health. 

It might also help to talk to other partners who know what you're going through. Some NHS trusts have local support groups you can join. Other organisations have forums or social media groups where you can meet and share with others.

See our useful contacts page for organisations who can support partners. And visit our pages on seeking help for a mental health problem for more information about getting support. 

Self-care

There are some things you can do to look after your own mental health if you are feel like you're struggling. Our page on self-care for perinatal mental health has some ideas that may help.

We also have an A-Z of mental health, which lists mental health problems that you may experience – as well as ways to get treatment and support, and how to care for yourself. 

This information was published in March 2024. We will revise it in 2027.

References and bibliography available on request.

If you want to reproduce this content, see our permissions and licensing page.

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