Depression is common in both sexes: 2016 statistics show that one in eight men have a diagnosed mental health disorder that includes depression.
The biggest concern is that men are far less likely to seek help for their depression. The result is four out of every five suicides are men. Studies carried out by the Samaritans indicate that the two biggest risk factors are age and socioeconomic status, with middle-aged men most at risk.
Real Life Experiences of a Stay-at-Home Dad
Stay-at-home dads are especially at risk of developing a depressive disorder, and many find coping with depression hard. Most dads who elect to stay at home and be the primary caretaker for their children describe the experience as ‘difficult’.
A 2016 report in the Daily Mail hammered home just how tough it was, with the dad describing how he was ostracised by women and laughed at by men. To make matters worse, the divorce rate for couples where the wife is the primary earner and the husband stays at home account for 10% of all breakups.
Societal roles for men and women are largely etched in stone. Men are the provider and women are the primary caregiver for children. But times are changing, and women are increasingly entering the workforce in well-paid roles.
If a woman’s earning power outstrips her partner’s, it makes sense for her to continue working while he takes care of the kids and home. The conflict comes when what works on paper fails to translate into reality.
As much as a man might like the idea of staying at home with his kids, the lack of adult stimulation and support network, which for women is well-established, can be devastating.
He may also try coping with depression alone, rather than admit to his small support network that he has a problem.
The Struggles of a Stay-at-Home Dad
If you are a stay-at-home dad, you may be experiencing all this and finding coping with depression hard. Most stay-at-home dads feel incredibly isolated.
They don’t feel comfortable attending playgroups, toddler play sessions, and the like, because these are female-dominated. They have nothing to talk about with their friends anymore and their wife is too busy earning money to offer emotional support.
Coping with Depression
Depression will not go away on its own and pretend that there is nothing wrong is not the answer. Most men are reluctant to admit they have a problem, but if you want to feel better, you must seek professional help.
Bottling up your feelings and coping with depression on your own will only make matters worse, and the more depressed you are, the harder it will be to cope. Some men seek solace in alcohol. Again, this is not the answer. Alcohol is a depressive and it will only exacerbate the problem.
Make an appointment to see your doctor. He or she will ask a series of questions. Answer them honestly; do not minimise the extent of your low moods. You will probably be prescribed some anti-depressants which will make coping with depression easier. Take these as prescribed but be aware that it can take up to a month before you feel the effects.
It is also beneficial to try counselling. A trained counsellor will help you take control of your feelings, give you the tools to manage your depression and provide a safe environment to talk about how you feel.
Look for support from other stay-at-home dads. The internet makes it very easy to reach out and make contact with other dads in the same position as you. The https://thedadnetwork.co.uk/ website is a useful resource, along with http://www.dadathome.co.uk/.
Keep talking to your partner. Admit you are finding it hard – she’s probably just as conflicted as you. If your relationship is struggling, book some couples’ counselling sessions and talk things through.
Remember that taking that all-important step and acknowledging that you need help is not a sign of weakness. Rather, it is a sign of strength. You can do this!