Postpartum Fathers

Postpartum Fathers

Daddy’s Got The Baby Blues

It looks like postpartum depression doesn’t just hit new moms. Researchers say there are a significant number of sad dads who need help, as well.

About 10.4 percent of fathers experience prenatal or postpartum depression between the first trimester of pregnancy through the baby’s first year, according to a new review in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The rates are highest among new dads in the 3 to 6 months following the birth of a child.

“There are many implications of these findings. The observation that expecting and new fathers dispropor­tionately experience depression sug­gests that more efforts should be made to improve screening and refer­ral, particularly in light of the mount­ing evidence that early paternal depression may have substantial emo­tional, behavioral, and developmental effects on children,” said Drs. James F. Paulson, Ph.D., and Sharnail D. Bazemore, M.S., of the Eastern Virginia Medical School, authors of the review.

Researchers analyzed 43 studies involving 28,004 fathers from several countries. Paternal depression was worst in the United States at 14.1 percent while the international rate was 8.2 percent.

The data also showed a correlation between depression in mothers and fathers. The authors say this suggests “depression in one parent should prompt clinical attention to the other. Likewise, prevention and intervention efforts for depression in parents might be focused on the couple and family rather than the individual.”

Approximately 1 of 10 women are depressed during any trimester of pregnancy, or any month within the first year after delivery, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Studies have pointed to a change in hormone levels as the main cause. This review did not look at why fathers suffer from prenatal and postpartum depression, but other experts have suggested the following issues (some of which affect all new parents): anxiety over being a new parent, sleep deprivation, a lack of outside help, jealousy over the mother/child bond, financial worries and a history of depression.

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