New Dads Suffer From Post Natal Baby Blues Too Says Study

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New dads can suffer from postnatal depression after the birth of a baby but their suffering might go undetected says US researchers. Apparently around ten percent of new fathers can have a form of post natal depression and this is a higher figure than what is currently recognised.

It’s true, new fathers’ lives are also turned upside down by a new arrival to the family. They experience sleepless nights but still have to get up for work, they are expected to support their partner in the home, and they also feel the weight of responsibility bearing down on them.

Researchers Dr James Paulson and Sharnail Bazemore at the Eastern Virginian Medical School looked at 43 different studies involving over 28,000 parents from 16 countries around the world.

The trigger period for most fathers to sink into a depression seems to be around three to six months after the birth where up to 25 percent of new dads experienced the baby blues the researchers found. The study also revealed that if the mother had post natal depression the father was more likely to have it too.

They are calling for better screening and referral of fathers considered to be at risk of post natal depression.

“Depression in one parent should prompt clinical attention to the other” said the researchers.

“Likewise, prevention and intervention efforts for depression in parents might be focused on the couple and family rather than the individual” they said.

Bridget O’Connell, from the mental health charity Mind, told the BBC “becoming a parent is one of the biggest changes that both men and women can go through, yet there is still very little understood about how it impacts on mental health, and how many people will experience a perinatal mental health problem”.

“New parents can be faced with sleep deprivation, changes in lifestyle, changes in their relationship and new responsibilities all at once, and we don’t always remember that this is going to be an issue for men as well as for women” added O’Connell.

However, Ellie Lee, a lecturer in social policy at Kent University, believes that emotions shouldn’t be too medicalised.

“It is, of course, essential to diagnose and treat serious clinical depression. But there is a tendency to overuse medical labels” Lee told the BBC, adding that men haven’t given birth and experienced hormonal fluctuations, their problems are different she said.

“It is no longer good enough to just be the bread-winner. They have to be engaged and involved. They are expected to abstain from alcohol, attend every scan and ‘feel the pain’ of birth” she said, adding “This can be a stressful experience.”

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