New fathers who are struggling are often overlooked and their difficulties are not acknowledged by a system that has focused mainly on mother and baby health and well-being. This means that dads may not be encouraged to access treatment when they need it.
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. 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 you 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 your 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 your relationships
- Withdrawing from your family and friends and feeling unable to share your struggles
- Feeling isolated and disconnected in your relationship with your partner
- Lack of connection or increased irritability towards your baby
If you recognise some or all these things, then DadBooster may 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.
Web-based depression interventions can overcome many barriers to treatment uptake. Access is not limited by geography or local services. As well as offering the convenience of engaging with treatment from home, web-base programs also provide privacy thus addressing some men’s concerns regarding stigma. Internet-based treatments can facilitate moving evidence-based interventions into practical health service delivery and extend the reach of 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 e-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 CBT and years of clinical experience and controlled research about how to best reduce moderate to severe symptoms of depression.
DadBooster is a six-session cognitive-behavioural therapy 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 regular contact, advice, and encouragement to remain motivated in completing the treatment. 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 trial is now open for recruitment
PIRI is conducting a research study to evaluate DadBooster. 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.
To learn more and participate in the study, visit the DadSpace website for additional information.