Friday, June 18, 2010

On Father's Day: Do New Dads Get Depressed?

As Father's Day nears, a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) suggests that amid the excitement of a new child's birth, some new fathers may be equally at-risk for what is usually called postpartum depression (PPD) in mothers. The study has challenged traditional understanding of PPD and sparked an interesting public dialogue. The greatest impact of the study may be underscoring the need for more PPD research in both men and women.

According to NPR, the JAMA study reveals that as many 10 percent of men whose partners are pregnant experience an onset of depression anywhere from three months prior to the baby's birth up to the child's first birthday. The incidence of depression in new fathers is twice the typical rate of depression in men and also corresponds with the rate of postpartum depression in women.

PPD traditionally has been defined as a temporary mood disturbance in women following childbirth. Symptoms may include experiencing insomnia, uncontrollable bouts of crying and thoughts of harming oneself or the child.

While previous studies have suggested that hormonal changes in women directly related to pregnancy and childbirth are a key factor in postpartum depression, some researchers point out that men also experience hormonal changes associated with stress, sleep deprivation and anxiety related to the birth of a new child.

Untreated depression in either parent can have a serious impact on the health and well-being of a family unit, resulting in strained or broken relationships and increased risk for substance abuse and even suicide.

Visit to learn more about symptoms, medications and treatment.  For more information on mental illness, visit the NAMI Southwestern Pennsylvania website

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