(U.S.) – Experts are sharing information about how dads are also susceptible to depression during and after pregnancy.
According to Healthychildren.org, an extension of American Academy of Pediatrics, depression in dad is actually a relatively common phenomenon – affecting anywhere between 2% and 25% of them during their partner’s pregnancy or in the first year after the baby is born.
The AAP indicates this rate can even increase to 50% when the mother has perinatal/postpartum depression and it can take a serious toll on the entire family’s wellbeing.
Risk Factors for Paternal Depression:
AAP and Healthychildren.org site several risk factors for dads developing depression such as new demands and responsibilities and the overall major change in a father’s life.
- Difficulty developing an attachment with the baby
- Lack of a good male role model
- Lack of social support or help from family and friends
- Changes in a marital relationship, such as a partner’s lack of intimacy
- Feeling excluded and jealous over mother-child bonding
- Lack of rewards in parenting
- Maternal depression
- Financial and work stress
- Low testosterone
SymptOms of Paternal Depression:
Experts indicate symptoms may appear in different ways. Fathers may not cry, but rather feel frustrated and/or angry. Depression can manifest itself in terms of irritability, impulsivity and feeling unable to find pleasure in anything. Fathers who are depressed are also more likely to engage in substance use, domestic violence, and discourage their partner from breastfeeding and/or breast pumping.
Screening for Paternal Depression:
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all mothers should be routinely screened for depression during pregnancy and at 1, 2, 4 and 6 months after childbirth using screening tools (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale). Doctors have also started to recently screen fathers as well using the same questionnaire.
According to the report on Healhtychildren.org, research demonstrates the importance for men to get treated for depression through means such as talk therapy, antidepressant medications and community-based supports.
Officials ask that parents remember the importance of talking to a health care professional (your doctor, your baby’s doctor, a nurse or another health care provider). Also, they stress that any parent may become depressed when having a new baby and starting a family and it doesn’t mean you are a bad or “not together” parent.