What is parental depression? signs and resources

Content Warning: This story contains mention of suicide.

As we mourn the death of DJ Stephen Chief “tWitch”It seems more timely than ever to talk about mental health and suicide with our male partners and loved ones.

These are crucial conversations that we cannot afford not to have. There are lives at stake.

We are moving in a positive direction with maternal mental health, having necessary conversations that support mothers in less embarrassing ways. However, for fathers and men in general, we still have a ways to go. Research suggests that 10% of new dads experience depression—but what happens to the parents years later?

There is still a stigma men face about asking for help, showing their emotions, and being vulnerable due to socialization and cultural expectations. They put on a brave face and act like nothing bothers them as they fulfill the role of father and husband, one of stability and provider for their families. Therefore, depression among men is largely undiagnosed.

Related: At my 6-week postpartum checkup, I lied to my doctor about my PPD

But this “mask” they wear can get heavy and lonely. It can turn dark and unforgiving. However, the fear of taking it off can prevent them from doing just that. Men often don’t dare appear weak, incapable, or “emotional.” They have been told since childhood, either directly or indirectly, that “boys don’t cry” and to “toughen up”, which is then internalized over the years as “their feelings don’t matter” and their experience doesn’t matter. it is valid.

While this was never the intention of our parents’ generation when they raised us, it was par for the course back then, and the consequences still affect many of us today. It shows in the inability to know one’s own emotions, let alone express them, ask for help, or even simply share them in a vulnerable way with others.

The expectations placed on men to constantly appear strong and “perfect” in their role (as are women and mothers who deal with perfectionism in other ways), obviously makes it incredibly difficult for any man to express his struggle or ask for help. .

Signs of depression in men and fathers.

Depression, anxiety, or any other mental health problem can sometimes become a “mask” that people feel they need to live in. In fact, studies show that while men are diagnosed with depression at half the rate of women, die by suicide 3 to 4 times more frequently.

Knowing this, what could parental depression look like? How could this internal struggle appear for a man in his life?

Examples of how parental depression can manifest itself

  • It can seem like an increase in anger or irritability as men strive to show their feelings in more “culturally appropriate” ways aligned with what it means to be a “man” in modern society.
  • It can mean changes in your sleeping and eating patterns and in your daily routine.
  • They may seem less involved in social and family activities, or more fatigued and disconnected than connection ever gave them.

If you feel inside that something is wrong with your loved one’s mental health, you should not hesitate to ask or get help. It means there is hope and still time if you act quickly.

It is useful to know that 90% of those who are contemplating suicide give some kind of warning to those around them..

Examples of signs that someone may be considering suicide

  • Handing over your belongings
  • Increased use of drugs or alcohol
  • A previous suicide attempt
  • Language that suggests a desire to die, such as “life feels too hard” or “I just can’t take it anymore. I wish I wasn’t here” or “you’d be better off without me”

If you assume your partner is in immediate danger, call 911 or 988, the National Crisis and Suicide Lifeline. You can also refer to the QPR protocol described below.

4 ways to support your partner who may be struggling with parenting depression

1. Practice empathy and understanding

Knowing how difficult it is for men to admit that they are struggling or need help means that you may need to normalize your experience for them until they feel safe to do so. Try something like, “I’ve noticed that you’ve been getting less and less sleep and you’re less likely to want to hang out with the kids. Everything is alright? You are juggling a lot right now, and I want you to know that it makes sense for you to feel overwhelmed. I’m here for you.”

2. Do not stop reviewing them

Don’t ask once and necessarily assume that what you were told is the truth. They may feel embarrassed and embarrassed to experience their feelings in this way and the more you ask them, the more they will know that you mean it and will be safe to be honest with you.

3. Talk about your own struggles and mental health

Make these issues a part of your relationship so nothing is left off the table. Share what it was like for you to admit your difficulties and how you got help.

Related: Detecting postpartum depression can be difficult. Here’s how to get your partner’s help

4. Offer resources

If you don’t see signs of suicidality, but your behavior and mood indicate that you need some support, you may be referred for therapy. Additionally, more men’s groups are popping up online where men come together to learn about their emotions and have safe spaces to process their struggles. These can be very powerful and validating as men learn that it’s okay to fight back too.

How to talk about suicide

Nervous about talking about suicide with your partner? Try the proven suicide prevention technique known as QPR (ask, persuade and refer)) protocol.

Related: Suicide is the leading cause of death for new moms

Q: Question

You can’t give someone the idea of ​​suicide, that’s a myth. It is something they are already thinking about or not. It can be scary to ask someone so bluntly, “Are you thinking about committing suicide? Are you thinking of committing suicide? but the consequence of not asking that question can be deadly.

Get comfortable asking that question.

Pa: persuade

Next, you want to convince them to get professional help. Lead with empathy and understanding, even if you don’t get your wish yourself. Try, “I understand that life feels really overwhelming right now. You are very important to me and to our family. I want to help you. Will you go with me to get help? If that doesn’t work, it’s time to call your local emergency crisis center helpline or emergency services (see below).

A: Refer

It doesn’t matter if they do it with you or alone, provide them with numbers and resources to connect with professional help immediately. Write it down, text it to them, or call the number for them. Make sure they have your contact information readily available to them.

A Note from Motherly: Parental Depression

The more we talk about mental health and make it a normal conversation, the less shame and stigma there will be about it. We cannot afford not to have these conversations with our partners and those we love. When we do this, our children learn that it’s okay for them to struggle too, and more importantly, that they can ask for help.

The phone numbers listed below are available 24/7 to help you support a loved one with suicidal thoughts or other mental health crises:

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