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Dads get the baby blues too

Coping with depression on a daily basis
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For many parents, the arrival of a new baby is an exciting and joyous time. However, for some the huge life-changing event can stir more negative emotions such as inexplicable sadness and fear. This is usually referred to as the ‘baby blues’ and is usually diagnosed in new mothers, however a new study suggests that fathers are at risk as well.

Screening expectant fathers

Researchers at McGill University, Canada say the risk for men is so prominent that they advise screening expectant fathers to identify those most sensitive to the baby blues.

The McGill University study is the first to examine antenatal depression symptoms in Canadian men. They concluded that a ‘significant number’ (13%) of first-time fathers experienced depression during pregnancy.

Dr Deborah Da Costa, an associate professor in the Department of Medicine at McGill University, said: ‘The mental health of men remains a neglected area of research and one that is not adequately addressed during the transition to parenthood.

‘Highlighting these findings in Canada increases awareness in expectant parents, new parents, and importantly healthcare providers who are in contact with expectant couples during prenatal appointments.’

Depression during partners pregnancy

622 men participated in the study, all of which were in Quebec, over the span of 18 months. They completed online surveys during their partners third trimester, which measured factors such as mood, activity, sleep, social support, marital adjustments, financial stress and demographics.

The results revealed that 13.3% of fathers-to-be were experienced depressive symptoms during their partner’s pregnancy. Fortunately, most of the factors surrounding depression in men are modifiable, meaning tools are available to help them cope.

Researchers are also looking at sleep in relation to depression and found men who did not have good quality sleep were at a higher risk of depression.

Dr Da Costa said: ‘these are important signals because some of these factors may worsen in postpartum; certainly sleep will be compromised in the first years. We know that antenatal depression is the strongest predictor for postnatal depression. So teaching fathers and screening for this early on, can be beneficial in terms of decreasing the risk or the continuation of depression postpartum.’

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About Siobhan Harmer

About Siobhan Harmer

Siobhan Harmer is an English Freelance writer who drinks far too much coffee!!

Website: Siobhan Harmer

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