Postpartum Depression Hits Dads, Too?

A new study has found that postpartum depression isn’t just a problem for mothers! A recent study that followed more than five thousand new parents found that about fourteen percent of mothers and ten percent of fathers showed signs of depression.

According to the study leader, a professor from the Eastern Virginia Medical School Center for Pediatric Research, this is the first nation-wide look at postpartum depression. Smaller studies have found similar results — that fathers, too, may succumb to moderate or severe postpartum depression — but this is the largest study to date.

The study found that both basic activities and day-to-day interactions with the baby were impaired by postpartum depression in both mothers and fathers. A new study will look at the patterns of screening for postpartum depression in both parents — detecting postpartum depression is the first step in treating it.

Pediatricians are probably in the best position to detect postpartum depression in new parents, but don’t often catch the problem. Some pediatricians may not even see the father at office visits. Then again, pediatricians are first and foremost concerned with the health of the baby; the mental state of either or both parents comes second, if at all.

Why might a father experience postpartum depression?

  • The elation of birth may simply fade with time
  • The mother may keep the baby to herself, and the father may feel like he does not have a chance to bond
  • The father may feel sexually frustrated if the mother is not interested in intimacy
  • The father may feel emotionally frustrated if the mother is more interested in the baby
  • If the mother is especially maternal, the father may feel unnecessary in the baby’s life

Depression in the new father may lead him to be more solitary. He may work longer, drink more, or lose himself in sports.

For more information on pregnancy, visit the Pregnancy Blog.
For more information on depression, visit the Mental Health Blog.