New research suggests the post-baby blues aren’t limited to women.
A study of expectant and new fathers in New Zealand found that those who were already stressed or in poor health had elevated symptoms of depression when their partners were pregnant and nine months after birth.
The study, published online by JAMA Psychiatry, analyzed antenatal depression symptoms (ADS, before birth) and postnatal depression symptoms (PDS, after birth) in 3,523 men. Participants completed interviews while their partner was pregnant and again nine months after the birth of their child.
Researchers found that 2.3 percent of fathers (82 men) experienced elevated ADS during their partners’ pregnancies, while 4.3 percent of fathers (153 men) experienced elevated PDS nine months after birth.
During pregnancy, men’s increased depression symptoms were linked to perceived stress and poor health, while increased symptoms after the birth were linked to perceived stress in pregnancy, no longer being in a relationship with the mother, having poor health, being unemployed or having a history of depression.
"Only relatively recently has the influence of fathers on children been recognized as vital for adaptive psychosocial and cognitive development,” reads the study.
“Given that paternal depression can have direct or indirect effects on children, it is important to recognize and treat symptoms among fathers early and the first step in doing that is arguably increasing awareness among fathers about increased risks.”