We've been hearing more in recent years about the risk of
postpartum depression in mothers. But there's another population
that's been left out: fathers.
One in 10 dads experience some pre- or
post-partum depression, a new study finds.
About 10 percent of men experience pre- or postpartum
depression, according to a study published in the Journal of the
American Medical Association. That's twice the normal rate for the
general population of men.
Researchers from the Eastern Virginia Medical School examined
studies conducted over 20 years that included more than 28,000 men.
They found that men are most likely to be depressed when their
babies are between three and six months old, or if the mothers are
Key symptoms of depression are the same for men and women, says
Dr. Shona Vas, a clinical psychiatrist and assistant professor at
University of Chicago. These include feeling sad most of the day
for more than two weeks, and losing interest in what previously
were pleasurable activities. Other signs include trouble sleeping,
a change in eating habits or feelings of guilt or hopelessness.
But while symptoms are the same, men aren't as educated about
the prevalence of depression in fathers and may feel embarrassed to
admit their feelings.
"We need to normalize it, and tell people that depression is a
very natural response to the stress of a new baby," Vas says. When
broaching the subject with men, she says, "it can help to correlate
it with a behavior, such as, 'You're not sleeping. When was the
last time you went to the gym?'"
Couples need to be particularly supportive of each other,
keeping communication open and seeking help from family, friends or
a babysitter to find moments to relax together, Vas says.
Lisa Applegate is a freelance writer and mom of one living in Chicago.
See more of Lisa's stories here.
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