While it’s widely known that some mothers suffer from postpartum depression, current research is now suggesting that new fathers may become depressed after childbirth, too.
A study published in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association analyzed 43 previously published studies involving 28,000 male and female adults regarding depression, and has concluded that approximately 10% of fathers suffer depression during the postpartum period.
Dads share some of the same triggers for postpartum depression as women, including shock from the major life change, sleep deprivation and financial stress that may come with a new baby.
Researchers warn against ignoring the signs of depression in fathers. “There’s evidence growing that depression in fathers is negative for children and increases the risk of emotional and behavioral problems,” says study author James Paulson of the Eastern Virginia Medical School. In preschool, children who have fathers with depression are found to have more conduct problems and hyperactivity, compared to children whose parents show no symptoms of depression. This trend may be stronger in boys than in girls.
The study authors hope their findings may help raise awareness about the issue, so that new mothers realize their partners may be having problems, so men know to seek help, and so health care professionals recognize the symptoms.
Currently in Canada a study is underway looking at how new fathers are affected by their partner’s postpartum depression. In the study, many dads developed symptoms of depression themselves, and expressed feelings of frustration at the lack of supports for themselves and their partners. The study — a collaboration between a number of universities — will include fathers from various communities across Canada.
Find out more about this research at www.unbf.ca/nursing/child/CIHRDads.html.