Would-be fathers too may be at risk of depression

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. Male partners' symptoms in regard to postpartum depression were ranked on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, the same screening tool used for mothers.

The researchers analyzed health questionnaires from more than 3,500 men to draw their conclusions.

This depression in fathers - which took place nine months after the birth of the child - was associated with perceived stress in pregnancy, no longer being in a relationship with the mother, poor health, being unemployed and having a history of depression.

With celebrity mums from Adele to Hayden Panettiere opening up about their struggles with postpartum depression, we've finally reached an era in which the surprisingly common condition is out of the shadows and into the public eye.

Men who just had a newly born baby enter their lives or whose wives are pregnant and have just conceived may face full-fledged depression.

The researchers found out that 82 or 2.3 percent of participants experienced elevated prenatal depression symptoms.

In 2014, the ADAA put about 15.7 million adults in the United States aged 18 years old and above as having experienced a minimum of one major depressive episode within the past year. And similar to the new findings, marital relationship quality and stress are the dominant aspect of paternal depression.

"Yet, interest in perinatal depression has focused on women despite policies to improve the sex balance in research".

Study author Dr Lisa Underwood, from the University of Auckland, says that while pre- and post-natal depression has been studied extensively in mothers, there has been little done to identify symptoms in men.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America defines depression as a condition where a person feels unmotivated, hopeless, sad, discouraged, or generally not interested in life.

'Given that paternal depression can have direct or indirect effects on children, it is important to recognise and treat symptoms among fathers early'.

"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".

Women also experience significant hormonal changes during pregnancy, after childbirth, and while breastfeeding that can throw their emotions for a loop. In the US, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology also recommends that women be screened at least once during the perinatal period.

Fathers are also vulnerable to pregnancy stress, exhibiting elevated levels of depression symptoms while their partners are pregnant and for up to nine months after their child was born, says a New Zealand study.