Sunday, 12 January 2014

Post-Natal Depression in Men Doesn't Exist...According to the Media Anyway

During the course of this week, I was contacted by a couple of broadcasting students asking me if I would feature in their project which focused on Post-Natal Depression (PND) in fathers; it is due to be broadcast later this week.  Naturally I obliged.

PND in men?  Not something one hears everyday, and certainly not something widely covered in the media.  The media are too busy focussing on how we should be, as opposed to how we and other things actually are.  The statistics say that 1 in 10 fathers will suffer from PND; I say that's wrong.  I have done no research on this, never run a survey, never involved myself in interviewing young fathers, I am purely willing to wager that the stats are not a true representation of what is actually happening.  For statistics to be accurate, we need a global population to partake, a feat which is neigh on impossible.  One can only gather statistics based on recorded cases.  Now the mere fact that men generally don't talk about their moods, feelings, etc. makes it pretty obvious that the stats are inaccurate.  Many men suffer in silence, trying to deal with the lack of coping in there own way.  As men, we have this seemingly innate predisposition which drives us to be the central protector or pillar within our family.  What good is a family with a weak central pillar?  The answer is in fact "pretty good".  You see, we are sold on this idea that when people have babies, all their problems vanish.  The idea that children will bring you and your partner closer together may in fact be a fallacy.  Advertisements which sell toothpaste, nappies, whatever it may be, show us images of parents who are smiling and laughing; generally loving life.  Don't get me wrong, this may be a reality for many families, but what we don't see is the father or mother who is exhausted, tired beyond belief.  The crying baby suffering from colic, wind, reflux...

What is happening here, is that the media is selling us some ideal, utopian world on how things should be.  We internalise this as being the norm and start questioning our own feelings and abilities as a parent.  The ideal self (portrayed in the media) and the actual self (what you are truly feeling) are in a state of disequilibrium, resulting in low self-esteem which may present itself in the form of depression.

Children are fun, they are an absolute delight in my eyes (you just need to read some of my blogs to know that), but why as a society do we put up this front that nothing is wrong?  We have this ludicrous idea that if we admit that we are having difficulty as a new parent, that we are not fit to fulfil the role or that we are bad-mouthing our child who is not even old enough to defend him- / herself from the perceived slander.

Depression is the common cold of psychology.  It is not out of the norm to experience it (121 000 000 people will suffer from it at any given time - recorded cases of course) so suffering in silence may actually be counter productive.  By simply googling PND in men, one can start to find the answers as well as support networks within a split second.


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