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17 February 2017, 12:43 | Elizabeth Houston
New dad depression is linked to stress during pregnancy
Despite the increased risk of depression for fathers both before and after their child's birth, many dads aren't screened or educated about depression, and that's something that needs to change. With this increased awareness and visibility, more new mums are aware of the risks and symptoms of postpartum depression (or even postpartum psychosis) - and therefore more likely to seek treatment if necessary.
It found one in 50 prospective fathers were depressed in the lead-up to childbirth, and one in 25, felt down afterwards. They asked the men questions about their mental health prior to the births of their babies, and then again after the babies were born.
The new study reported a handful of causes associated with men experiencing depression after a child's birth: being in fair to poor health, no longer being in a relationship with the child's mother, being unemployed, and having a history of depression. Causes for depression can be different as well. It assessed for depression symptoms that manifested before and after a child was born based on interviews of 3,523 men while their partners were in their third trimester and nine months after they had given birth.
The researchers found elevated symptoms of prenatal depression in 82 fathers, or 2.3 per cent of the total participants.
While pre-natal and post-natal depression has been examined extensively in mothers, fathers were often left out in the cold, an Auckland University study says. "The lack of screening for paternal depression in New Zealand mirrors the worldwide situation", explained the study's lead author Lisa Underwood.
"When you think that there are 60,000 New Zealand births each year, we're talking about almost 1400 children affected, potentially, by anti-natal paternal depression and more than 2500 New Zealand children affected by paternal post-natal depression, each year".
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"Pregnancy and childbirth may be high risk periods for male depression".
'Given that paternal depression can have direct or indirect effects on children, it is important to recognise and treat symptoms among fathers early'.
"Yet, interest in perinatal depression has focused on women despite policies to improve the sex balance in research". Postnatal depression syndrome (PDS) isn't just experienced by women.
'Expectant and new fathers also experience biological and ecological stressors, including changes to brain circuits, structure, and hormones, that can increase their risk of depression symptoms.
"This suggests that only at-risk men would benefit from intervention, but all pregnant women, regardless of meeting the criteria for a clinical diagnosis, may benefit from support".
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