Baby blues: fathers with postpartum depression

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The so-called baby blues overtakes ten percent of fathers

Many mothers experience the so-called baby blues in the first weeks after the birth of their child, which can develop into serious postpartum depression. However, not only mothers suffer from this phenomenon, fathers also often face significant psychological problems after the birth of their children.

Australian scientists at the Parenting Research Center in Melbourne have found in a comprehensive study that fathers suffer from mental health problems comparable to those of mothers after the birth of their child. Almost ten percent of men therefore catch the baby blues in the first year after the birth of their offspring. The results of the study suggest that routine checks on the well-being of fathers and possibly psychological interventions should take place in the postnatal period, write Jan M. Nicholson and colleagues from the Parenting Research Center in the journal "Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology".

Ten percent of fathers with baby blues As part of their study, the Australian researchers examined the psychological well-being of 3,471 men, whose children were up to five years old, and compared it with the psyche of the “general male adult population”. To enable a comparison, the "Data on prevalence of mental health problems in the adult Australian male population from the" National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing "was used. The researchers found that "among young fathers, the rate of those who describe such problems is 40 percent higher than among men in general". In total, almost ten of the men suffered from significant psychological problems in the first 12 months after the child was born. At worst, postnatal depression can “persist through early childhood,” write Jan M. Nicholson and colleagues. At 9.7 percent, more men are affected by stress symptoms after the birth of their child than women (9.4 percent), the scientists report. "We were surprised that the problems in fathers are as common as in mothers," said Jan M. Nicholson.

Fathers need psychological support According to the researchers, the cause of the psychological complaints can be, for example, the enormous responsibility and growing pressure. Deprivation of sleep during the night may also play a role, but other factors must also have a significant impact here, according to Nicholson and colleagues, since the psychological problems also occurred when the fathers did not live with their children at all. Overall, the symptoms are similar to maternal puerperal depression, with those affected often feeling that they are not meeting their (own) demands. The "psychological problems in fathers can be persistent and unrelenting," according to the Australian researchers. According to the scientists, given the current results of the study, routine control of the well-being of fathers in the postnatal period should be considered. The affected fathers need support and, if in doubt, therapeutic intervention is required, Nicholson and colleagues write in their article. (fp)

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