Are New Dad’s at Risk for Depression?

By joel (Flickr: Shower Time!) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

It’s entirely normal for new parents to have some type of anxiety at the thought of bringing home a new baby. However, the risks for men when it comes to anxiety can be just as high as those for a new mother. A mental health researcher did an evaluation on 43 separate studies and found that anxiety before and after a baby arrives is just as preventable as depression and it happens to one in ten men.

Anxiety in New Fathers

Researchers from Australian National University discovered that anxiety around or about the time of a new baby being born is just as common as postnatal depression and the risks for males are nearly as high as those for new mothers.

Dr. Liana Leach, a mental health researcher, reviewed information from 43 separate studies and discovered that expect and new fathers are affected by depression at a rate of one in ten.

She stated, “Men can feel left out of the process, because pregnancy and childbirth are so integrally linked to the mother. It can compound the problem. They don’t seek help, because they think “it’s not so much about me.”

The precise reasons for anxiety and depression in expectant fathers is not yet understood. While the results from the 43 studies varied, some of the information suggests that 20 percent of parents suffer from depression and/or anxiety.

The study has been approved for publication in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

The doctor went on to further state, “Having a baby is a time of great adjustment for many parents, and it is normal to be nervous, but anxiety can become a problem when it persists for extended periods of and interferes with every day functioning.”

The symptoms of anxiety can include feeling worried, being worked up most of the time, irritability, and fearing for the baby’s safety. Physical symptoms of anxiety can include appetite loss, poor quality of sleep, profuse sweating, racing heartbeat and feeling a sense of doom.

Dr. Leach advises there is help available for expectant fathers and new mothers, with the first point of contact being a licensed medical professional who is experienced in dealing with mental health disorders.

Conclusion to the Study

It’s a good idea for a couple to be aware of their mental health right from the very start, particularly when expecting a new baby. With early intervention, the severity and duration of anxiety and depression in new fathers can be greatly diminished.

The risk factors for depression and anxiety include lack of social support, particularly from his or her partner, financial hardships and a prior history of mental health issues. In closing, Dr. Leach stated, “Health care during the perinatal period should be about the whole family.”

 
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