Postpartum Depression Puts Dads At Risk Too; What Factors Affect Paternal Depression?

By Amanda Moore, Parent Herald February 17, 04:00 am
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Fathers are also at risk of developing postpartum depression, a new study has learned.
(Photo : Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

Fathers who have new babies are at risk of postpartum depression. A new study reveals dads get the baby blues just like moms even if they have not actually given birth.

Experts have long cited that postpartum depression in mothers happens because they experience hormonal changes as their body changes, and this triggers the symptoms. Among fathers, however, stressors that trigger paternal depression could also be biological and environmental. Experts published their findings regarding postpartum depression in dads in the JAMA Psychiatry journal.

"Changes to brain circuits, structure and hormones can increase their risk of depression symptoms," the experts noted in their study, Medical Daily reports. Experts cautioned that as with postpartum depression in mothers, dads might have to be screened and checked as well so that they are provided with proper support.

Researchers studied the data of some 3,523 men in New Zealand from 2009 and 2010. They underwent interviews and answered questionnaires in relation to their partner's pregnancy and subsequent birth of the baby.

Experts learned 82 fathers (2.3 percent) from among the participants had elevated prenatal depression and 153 fathers (4.3 percent) had elevated postnatal depression, according to CNN. The symptoms of depression were linked to a dad's history of depression as well as changes in his relationship with the mom and the rest of his social circle once the baby arrived.

The findings support a previous study in 2015 published in the American Journal of Men's Health. At least 13.3 percent of 622 dads who participated in the study manifested paternal depression.

When left unchecked and unsupported, postpartum depression in dads can impact how the mom is treated and it can, in turn, affect their baby. Researchers encouraged new dads, especially those with a history of mental health problems, to seek help if they feel stressed, unwell, bothered and unable to cope with the new family dynamics.

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