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Dads may also get the baby blues

Like motherhood, fatherhood too is demanding. One in 10 new fathers may get the baby blues, US researchers believe.

New moms are known to suffer baby blues after delivery. But results of a new study highlight that even new dads suffer from postpartum depression, at times equally debilitating as their partner’s.

According to the findings presented at a news conference, sponsored by the American Medical Association, 10.4 percent of the new dads become depressed somewhere between partner's first trimester and one year after childbirth.

Details of the study
Researchers from the Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk analyzed the findings of 43 studies involving 28,004 new dads. The studies had tracked paternal depression from the first trimester through the first year of the child’s life.

About 10.4 percent of new dads were likely to get depressed during the prenatal or postpartum period, the researchers found.

The most vulnerable period for depression in men was three to six months after the babies’ birth with 25.6 percent of fathers displaying feelings of depression, researchers say.

Also, rates of depression were remarkably high among fathers in the United States as against their counterparts from Europe, Australia, South America and China, as researchers found. 14.1 percent of the American dads experienced paternal depression as against 8.2 percent internationally.

The cause fueling the malady
Unlike in yester years where a mother took full responsibility of the home and children and father juggled around waging, contemporary fathers are expected to shoulder equal responsibilities at home.

"We are expecting dads to be more involved in parenting than we ever have before" said Will Courtenay, a psychotherapist and researcher on paternal depression. "Most dads are welcoming of that, but they don't have any models about what a dad is supposed to do. That creates uncertainty, and that uncertainty can lead to anxiety and depression."

About 10.4 percent of new dads were likely to get depressed during the prenatal or postpartum period. The most vulnerable period for depression in men was three to six months after the babies’ birth with 25.6 percent of fathers displaying feelings of depression, researchers say.

Besides affecting the couple's relationship, depression in either parent can affect the child's development too, James F. Paulson, the lead author of the study, averred.

"There have been a few very good studies documenting negative child outcomes when fathers are depressed" he said. "That alone makes this a significant public health concern and something we need to pay more attention to."

Indicators of postpartum depression
Unlike in women wherein prenatal and postpartum depression are allegedly triggered by biological and hormonal changes associated with pregnancy and birth, in men, marital dissatisfaction, financial stress, increased responsibilities and sleep deprivation are known to play havoc.

While a woman appears to be sad, anxious, withdrawn and tearful, men display feelings of anger, irritability, withdrawal, and disengagement from the family.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, an estimated 14 percent to 23 percent of women experience prenatal depression and 5 percent to 25 percent get postpartum blues.

The findings feature in the May 19 issue of the ‘Journal of the American Medical Association.’