Dads and postpartum depression

 
By HSC Staff Writer • Published: November 20th, 2006
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
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The arrival of a baby should be one of life’s happiest events.

But up to seventy percent of new mothers feel an emotional letdown shortly after delivery. In serious cases it’s called postpartum depression.

Caused by changes in hormones, this phenomenon leaves women exhausted and hopeless.

Believe it or not, fathers can experience a similar reaction. And according to a study published in the August issue of the journal Pediatrics, it may strike almost as many men as women.

Researchers collected data on more than five-thousand families with nine-month-old infants. They found fourteen percent of mothers and ten percent of fathers had moderate or severe depressive symptoms.

Fathers were more likely to suffer serious depression if they were young, poorly educated or unemployed.

Not surprisingly, paternal depression had a negative effect on some child-care practices.

In the study, depressed fathers were less likely to read, sing or tell stories to their babies, compared with men from families with two normal parents.

Depressed dads had even less involvement in reading, singing and story-telling if the mother was depressed, too.

Curiously, two beneficial activities were more likely when one parent was depressed… taking the baby along on errands and putting the baby to bed while it was still awake.

Little research has been conducted on male postpartum depression, but this study suggests much more should be learned.

Babies deserve the best parenting possible, and keeping fathers happy and involved is an important part of the picture.