An estimated one in seven mothers are diagnosed with it, but what about fathers? A new study reveals the astonishing facts and figures behind fathers and postnatal depression.
Postnatal depression is not something that is taken lightly. It is described as moderate or severe depression after the birth of a child and is typically attributed to women. However, while there are more and more support options for new mums, a study reveals that fathers often suffer in silence.
In fact, one in 10 fathers may experience postnatal depression, but most are misdiagnosed and untreated. This crippling mental condition can not only affect a dad’s ability to parent, but it can also cause anxiety and behavioural issues in his toddler as well.
Researchers from Northwestern University set out to uncover the truth surrounding paternal postnatal depression with a study that followed 199 couples during the first six weeks after their children were born and then again after 45 months, when their babies had grown into toddlers.
The results, published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, confirms that postnatal depression in dads is prevalent and can affect kid’s behaviour just as much as a mum’s postnatal depression. Sheehan D. Fisher, a co-author of the paternal postnatal depression study, states, “The fact is that, given that there’s often two parents in the home working with the child, both parents’ depressive symptoms can have a very similar level of effect to the point that both need to be addressed.”
Children can sense their parents’ emotions and when a father or mother is feeling depressed or anxious, this can rub off on them. Depression can result in sadness, a lack of motivation, a loss of connection and a loss of drive to engage in normal activities with a child. Children may wonder why their parents are down and if it is their fault. These feelings of guilt and confusion can result in behavioural or anxiety issues down the road.
Regardless of whether a dad stays home with the child or goes to work, postnatal depression can strike either parent and it is not something that should be ignored. While paternal postnatal depression is fairly new and has been overlooked by doctors in the past, the Northwestern University researchers hope their study will help to change this and break down the stigma surrounding the condition.
(via Huffington Post)