After the arrival of a child, new parents sometimes go through a difficult period or even a depressive episode. Depression often manifests itself differently in men and women.
Unlike the baby blues, which is temporary, the changes in behaviour and mood associated with depression are present almost every day for at least two weeks.
Depression in women
Up to 1 in 5 women experience depression after childbirth.
Women suffering from depression usually experience sadness or a general loss of interest and overall pleasure in daily activities. They can also show some of the following signs:
- A decrease or increase in appetite
- A sleep disorder (sleeping too much, difficulty sleeping, or inability to sleep, even when baby is sleeping)
- Agitation or psychomotor impairment (e.g., slowed speech)
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Excessive anxiety and irritability
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt (e.g., the impression of not being a good parent or not being able to establish an emotional bond with the baby)
- Difficulty developing a sense of attachment, feelings of ambivalence or disinterest toward the child
- Difficulty concentrating or indecisiveness
- Thoughts of death or suicidal ideas
Experiencing some of these signs doesn’t necessarily mean you’re depressed. They can be confused with normal situations that occur after childbirth (e.g., fatigue from waking up to care for your baby, difficulty finding time to eat, or increased appetite due to breastfeeding).
If you’re concerned, see Seeking support below
Depression in men
As many as 1 in 10 men may suffer from depression following the birth of a child.
Men experience the same feelings as women but may express their distress differently.
For example, they may be more aggressive or irritable, have mood swings, or feel physical discomfort such as stomach aches, headaches, or difficulty breathing. Some men may also show hyperactive behaviour (escaping into work or sports for long hours) or excess consumption of alcohol or drugs.
If you or your partner are showing signs of depression, or you feel like things aren’t going well, seek help right away. Treatments are available for depression and other mental disorders. Consult a health professional, contact your local CLSC or a psychologist, or call Info-Social at 8-1-1.