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25% of fathers also suffer from postpartum depression

fathers suffer from postpartum depression

By Pamela Cruz. Peninsula 360 Press [P360P].
By Grant H. Brenner

Pregnancy and the time after the birth of a child is for many a time of joy and great expectations, but there can also be stress and anxiety not only in women, because according to studies, up to 25 percent of men also suffer from postpartum depression and anxiety.

Postpartum depression and anxiety have been better studied in women than in men, as pointed out by Dennis, Marini, Dol, Vigod, Grigoriadis, and Brown in an article entitled "Postpartum Depression and Anxiety". recent research published in the medical portal Depression and Anxiety, in which they investigate paternal postpartum difficulties.

The study details that there are variable rates of paternal postpartum problems, with depression ranging from 8.1 percent at 18 months shortly after delivery, rising to more than 25 percent in the first 6 months and dropping again toward the end of the first year. 

Meanwhile, anxiety rates range from 2.0 to 18.0 percent, and risk factors include paternal history of mental illness, maternal postpartum problems, economic stress, and newborn health problems.

The research covered more than 2,500 parents, with data collected between 2015 and 2019, where 75 percent completed surveys during the two years of the study. 

Questionnaires were sent every three months during the first year, and then twice a year during the second year to develop a longitudinal view. 

Measures included possible risk factors such as demographics, pregnancy-related, psychiatric and substance/alcohol use problems, paternal adversity in childhood, perceived quality of relationship and support with partners, and parent and infant-related factors. 

Each of these six domains included a number of relevant sub-factors; for example, the "parent-child relationship" included the quality of breastfeeding, co-sleeping (sharing a bed with the baby), quality of parental sleep, parental satisfaction, parental role orientation, and external support for child care. 

Thus, the researchers found that in the first year, 569 parents reported concurrent mild to moderate anxiety and depression, while, in the second year, 323 parents reported mild to moderate depression and anxiety. 

Three percent of parents reported more severe symptoms, which tended to begin in the first year and persist into the second year. 

Depression rates started at 4.0 percent, rose to over 11 percent within 3 months, and then stabilized around 10 percent for the remainder of the study period. 

For anxiety, this disorder followed a similar pattern, starting at 8.8 percent, increasing to more than 20 percent at 3 to 6 months, and then stabilizing at 20.4 percent at the two-year study endpoint.

In turn, they found that risk factors for concurrent depression and anxiety included low or fair perceived infant health in the first 4 weeks, a history of paternal depression, elevated paternal anxiety during pregnancy, a history of intimate partner violence, a need for increased counseling, and a history of paternal attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 

On the other hand, protective factors included better couple alliance and adjustment, better social integration, greater attachment, more hours of uninterrupted sleep, and greater parental satisfaction. 

Risk and protective factors were similar for the first and second years, with differences in the second year, including financial stress as a risk factor, and loss of importance of uninterrupted sleep as a protective factor.

According to Grant H. Brenner, M.D., Ph.D., psychiatrist, in the case of fathers, research on these conditions has been less robust, although as the importance of fatherhood is recognized, that is changing. 

"Recent research highlighting the role of father-child attachment and the development of paternal identity, for example, has outlined how men become fathers: from the moment they realize that the baby is actually real, rather than an abstract idea, to recognizing the great responsibility they have, to assuming the role of father and navigating complex and often conflicting emotions," the doctor specified in a recent article in Psychology Today.

He further explained that no study has systematically analyzed anxiety and depression, along with related risk factors together. 

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