Postpartum depression affects up to 25% of men after the birth of a child and a cause of male suicides. My descent in to the depressing time of the ‘baby blues’ actually started two months before my baby daughter’s birth. Pre/postnatal depression had a terrifying hold on my mind and lasted a year, leaving me suicidal and thinking i was going mad. I spent months feeling overwhelmed, unsure what was up, knowing i ‘wasn’t myself” but trying to keep it together for my pregnant partner.
I was diagnosed with depression after a frightening midnight panic attack and went in search of help to aid my recovery. Considering so many expectant fathers suffer this mental health problem I was shocked at the lack of support and advice on the subject. It seems too few men talk about this illness, maybe for fear of what their mates will say or seeming weak. However, locking the pain away behind a fake smile can lead some to fall victim to the darkest sides of this illness.
Without doubt the birth of my daughter was the most wonderful and horrific twelve months of my life and its taken five years to find the courage and peace to tell my story publicly. I hope sharing my experience and tips on how to beat this depression naturally helps you. I want to be sure the next guy who searches for help finds it.
Feel free to talk about your experiences or add your tips on handling Postpartum depression in the comments below.
Five Tips To Beat Male Postpartum Depression
Visit the doctor so you can see the reality
I was in denial when it came to my depression. It started suddenly with panic attacks, or heart attacks as i thought they were! I was telling myself there’s something wrong with my heart as it used to go crazy in my chest. I would google every ache and pain for a diagnosis but it wasn’t depression NO WAY. The doctor told me i was depressed after my ECGs, CAT scan etc all came bank fine. Then reality hit; I’d a stark choice -- do something about it or allow it to manifest and get worse. Once you accept you’re sick that’s the day the long recovery process begins -- For me it was the day my return to health began.
Speak to someone -- dont suffer in silence
This is one of the hardest things for a male with mental health problems to do but is BIG on your journey to recovery. Too many keep their feelings locked up and all this does is allow the depression to spiral out of control. So open up to your wife, relatives, friends and if you have no-one find a Samaritan to chat too. There is someone out there who will listen to you, don’t lock it up, its surprising how many men have had you start talking. Once you get your mental health problems out in the open the journey to recovery takes another step forward.
Exercise and diet are crucial to trigger your feel good hormones
This sounds easier said than done but its critical to your long term recovery, four years after depression i still watch my diet and excercise. Push yourself to exercise daily, exercising makes the body pump more blood to the muscles. In turn, this increases the blood flow to the brain releasing endorphins which elevate your mood and spirit for the day. 30 minutes of fast walking a day can make everything seem so much brighter.
Feeding your body good wholesome foods alongside daily exercise will really make a big difference if done consistently. Dark chocolate, bananas, nuts especially walnuts and oily fish like salmon & mackerel with their Omega-3 oils are all great foods to eat when depressed. A simple google search will bring up many ideas or talk to a health professional.
Focus on something good
You might not feel like it but forcing yourself to focus on something positive, good and rewarding will take your mind off things and help you get through the pain. When i was suffering I put all my effort and energy into our home based business even when i really didnt feel like it. I can now sit here and tell you that focus really helped me through that tough year. Find a hobby, find something challenging maybe a educational course but find something to work on daily to take your mind off things.
A bonus tip…
Let me give you a bonus tip because depression can reoccur so you need to keep taking care of yourself. I was scared of relapsing so i am religious in exercising, eating well and my final bonus tip -- DRINKING TEA! Yes, before bed I drink camomile tea to unwind and sleep well so the mind relaxes, releasing feel good hormones. I also use an awesome app called Headspace to meditate. It helps me work through any worries, concentrate on my daily gratitudes and sleep soundly.
I hope my video and tips help you on your way to recovery from postpartum depression. Five years on I’m grateful that I suffered from this mental illness. It’s made me able to deal with any life traumas which come our way and its allowed me to help others by sharing my experiences. My daughters’ five years old and we are a happy, close unit family; I’m proof that things do get better and recovery can last. I helped my self with a few simple things -- you can as well, I wish you well in your recovery.