Dads also prone to post-natal depression, research finds

Being stressed about looming fatherhood and being unwell increases the risk of becoming depressed scientists claim

"Our studies suggest that family and couple-based interventions that focus on improving relationship quality and alleviating stress in both men and women may benefit those at risk". With this increased awareness and visibility, more new mums are aware of the risks and symptoms of postpartum depression (or even postpartum psychosis) - and therefore more likely to seek treatment if necessary. On the other hand, 153 men or 4.3 percent experienced postnatal depression symptoms.

The researchers analyzed health questionnaires from more than 3,500 men to draw their conclusions.

"Expectant and new fathers also experience biological and ecological stressors, including changes to brain circuits, structure, and hormones, that can increase their risk of depression symptoms", the study's authors wrote.

Those symptoms can sometimes be severe - 20 percent of women with postpartum depression reported having suicidal thoughts in a study published published in JAMA Psychiatry in 2013.

Researchers found 23 in every 1,000 dads-to-be had an unusually low mood in the final three month of their partner's pregnancy.

By comparison, earlier figures found one in eight mothers experienced depression symptoms during pregnancy, with one in 12 experiencing symptoms post-natally.

"There is little evidence on depression symptoms among men during the perinatal period". And that's important because of the role a father's mental health plays in a child's development: "Paternal depression is associated with negative child outcomes, including emotional and behavioral problems". Researchers then ranked the dads' answers on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, which is a scale used to measure depression in women who've just given birth.

Depression is just as unsafe for your heart as obesity and high blood pressure, research revealed last month. Fathers don't suffer from depression in the same way, or at the same rates, as new moms, so it makes sense that most of the attention would be paid to women.

Dr Lisa Underwood, a Research Fellow at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, said: "Nearly nine per cent of men report a lifetime presence of depression and 2.6 per cent report a depressive episode within the past year".

Experts warned the findings are of vital importance since depression affects 350 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

"Given the potential for paternal depression to have direct and indirect effects on children, it is important that we recognize and treat symptoms among fathers early", she said. Studies have shown men don't get as much support in new fatherhood as women do, and they often feel guilty "burdening" their partners with their feelings.

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