The transition to fatherhood can present as a fundamental shift in a man’s life. Along with the traditional challenges of learning new skills and knowledge, changes in personal identity, the couple relationship and financial commitments may lead to new fathers being overwhelmed by feelings of confusion, exhaustion, helplessness, loneliness and feeling trapped.
New fathers who are struggling are often overlooked and their difficulties are not often acknowledged by a system that has focused mainly on mother and baby health and well-being. This means that some dads may not be encouraged to access treatment when they need it most.
Some dads have more difficulties than others as they make this transition. Many dads struggle and feel very overwhelmed and stressed, and about 10% become depressed.
Many dads describe some or many of the following when struggling:
Signs of depression
- Feeling sad, empty, or flat most days
- Loss of interest in things they used to enjoy
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
- Appetite changes, either eating too much or reduced appetite
- Reduced ability to concentrate or make decisions
- Feeling agitated and unable to be still
- Sleep disturbance either sleeplessness (unrelated to your baby) or sleeping too much.
- Feeling so anxious and worried that it interferes with their day-to-day life
- Ongoing irritability or anger
- Feeling constantly exhausted
- Feeling unmotivated and slowed down
- Feeling stressed which can include experiencing physical symptoms such as indigestion, headaches, and muscle tension, aches and pains.
Changes with their relationships
- Withdrawing from their family and friends and feeling unable to share their struggles
- Feeling isolated and disconnected in their relationship with their partner
- Lack of connection or increased irritability towards their baby.
If you recognise some or all these things, then the all new DadBooster program might be for you.
You are Not Alone
One in ten new fathers experience depression or anxiety, yet few ever seek help and even fewer receive adequate treatment. Several barriers may contribute to the very low rates of help-seeking, including stigma, feelings of failure, and non-accessibility of specialised treatments.
Online depression treatment programs can overcome many barriers to treatment uptake. In addition to offering the convenience of engaging with treatment from home, online programs provide privacy therefore addressing some men’s concerns regarding stigma. Access is not limited by geography or local services and can provide effective support to hard-to-reach populations (e.g. rural and remote communities).
Many depressed fathers don’t access traditional services, and their symptoms go largely unacknowledged and untreated. There is a need for treatments specifically for fathers that are delivered in a format that fathers may be more likely to access.
DadBooster has been developed with Aussie dads, for Aussie dads.
Accessible online treatments have enormous potential to address this critical unmet need by engaging new fathers living with depression, assisting recovery, and reducing the negative consequences for families.
What is DadBooster?
DadBooster is an online treatment program based on best-practice Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), years of clinical experience and controlled research about how to best reduce moderate to severe symptoms of depression.
DadBooster is a six-session CBT treatment program, closely comparable to the therapy delivered in traditional face-to-face psychology sessions, but entirely under the control of the user. It allows men to work through their own issues and develop strategies for dealing with these.
Low-intensity SMS messages provide additional support, advice, and encouragement as dads work through the six treatment modules at their own pace. Changes in symptoms of depression are regularly monitored throughout the program. Men can also invite their partners to access a partner website with information on paternal depression with strategies for managing their own emotional health.
The DadBooster evaluation is now open for recruitment
The Parent-Infant Research Institute (PIRI) is conducting a research study to evaluate DadBooster. This research study will evaluate the effectiveness of the DadBooster program as a treatment for dads experiencing depression and anxiety after the birth of their child. The trial is open to fathers with a new baby under 12 months of age who are feeling overwhelmed and experiencing some of the signs of depression.
Learn more about DadBooster and participate in the study. For additional information and to get started, click here.