PTSD in fathers after the birth of their child, can dads really suffer too?

Dad suffering from PTSD

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in fathers, can fathers really suffer from PTSD? Here’s the reality

Most people don’t think of new mums suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after birth. Even less so when it comes to dads. However, both happen and in men too. PTSD in fathers is majorly overlooked.  It is probably more common than you may think.

In the distant past, most fathers were never at the birth opting to go down the pub and wait for a phone call. It was around the 1970s fathers really started to attend births. These days, only around 14% of fathers are not at the births of their children. We assume a large majority of this is not out of choice though.

Now that fathers are at the births more often than not, it is slowly becoming recognised that men can suffer PTSD too. When you think about it, it shouldn’t be that surprising that men can suffer from PTSD.

If labour is long and drawn out with interventions and/ or complications, men can often be left on the sidelines. Not knowing what to do! Not knowing how to help, but want to! Add to this, seeing your loved one in distress and not knowing the outcome, it’s easy to see how it happens.

Around 35-40% of fathers report feeling helpless at the birth of their child.

Symptoms of PTSD in fathers

Symptoms of PTSD usually appear within a month after the birth. Sometimes though it can be delayed until later. The symptoms can vary from father to father and can include;

  • Flashbacks, nightmares and distressing images.
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Angry outbursts
  • Sleeping problems (insomnia)
  • Difficulty concentrating

Is PTSD in fathers present at birth, preventable?

PTSD may not be preventable, however, simply by talking about birth beforehand could prepare dads to be. Unfortunately, some of the details of birth and what can happen are glossed over.

Even when it goes okay it can be a long and drawn out process. This can be tiring and fathers can go without sufficient sleep for hours. Furthermore and more often than not the father to be is kept in the dark during labour

Treating PTSD in fathers.

If you’re suffering from PTSD then it’s important to get help as soon as possible.

There is a range of therapies and/ or medications available. A combination of both may be recommended by your GP if you have severe or persistent PTSD. Some treatments are;

  • CBT (Cognitive behavioural therapy)
  • EMDR (Eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing)
  • Group therapy
  • Counselling

Your GP can refer you to a specialist clinic that treats PTSD if there’s one in your area. You can also refer yourself directly to a psychological therapies service. You can find help from here from the NHS website.

Other help for PTSD

If you are or even think you’re suffering from PTSD after the birth of your child then it is important that you get help as soon as you can, you can get help from your GP, or you may want to call Mind

Our lines are open 9 am to 6 pm, Monday to Friday (except for bank holidays).
0300 123 3393
Visit the Mind website
or email Mind at info@mind.org.uk

If you need urgent help you can call the Samaritans free on 116 123or you can visit the Samaritans website.

Are you a father who suffered from PTSD from the birth of your child? We’d love to hear from you and give you a chance to tell our story, if so please get in touch

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