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29 September 2010

Beat the daddy blues

We know that many new mothers suffer from depression, but can new dad's get it, too?

It’s commonly accepted that as many as 80% of new mothers experience minor sadness, often called the “baby blues”, and that about 10% suffer from fully-fledged postpartum depression. But what about new dads – can they get hit by the baby blues, too? Studies suggest that even though they don’t have to deal with the hormonal rollercoaster that’s par for the course for mothers, a significant number of new fathers can expect to feel down and out before and especially after the birth of their child.

“There is a significant risk of mothers and fathers becoming depressed soon after the birth of their child,” said Professor Irwin Nazareth, one of the researchers involved. He also remarked that while new mothers are routinely screened for depression, there is no equivalent clinical practice for new fathers even though they too are at risk.

  • lack of sleep, which can change the neuro-chemical balances in the brain;
  • the economic stresses of raising a child;
  • adjusting to new challenges and routines and an entirely different lifestyle;
  • anxiety about the responsibilities of having a child; and
  • new demands on the parents’ relationship.

  • fathers within the first year of the birth of their child;
  • younger men aged between 15 and 24;
  • those from poor and socially deprived backgrounds; and
  • men with a history of depression.

  • recognise that new fathers can experience depression quite similar to that felt by many new moms – you are not alone;
  • prepare yourself for fatherhood in good time by being an involved partner, accompanying the mother-to-be to her doctor’s appointments and reading all the requisite baby books and articles;
  • speak to your partner about your new situation and how you can best support each other;
  • work out new routines and schedules together with your partner to help both of you ease into your new lifestyle;
  • look out for early warning signs in your behaviour, such as irritability, moodiness, hostility, aggressiveness, feelings of being overwhelmed, emotionally withdrawn, lonely, inadequate, trapped or simply sad.
  • don’t bottle up your feelings – talk about them to your partner, a trusted relative or a friend;
  • share your experiences with and look for support from other new fathers;
  • speak to your doctor and consider seeking professional help through therapy or medication.

 
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