May 20, 2010 05:00:48
Posted By Oak Grove Midwife
High Rate of Prenatal, Postpartum Depression Found in Fathers
May 19, 2010 — More than 10% of fathers experience prenatal and postpartum depression, with the highest rates found 3 to 6 months after birth, according to results from a new multinational meta-analysis reported May 19 in the Journal of the American Medical Association theme issue on mental health.
The study found that as one partner's depression severity went up, so did the other," said Dr. Paulson. "That's not to say that there's any established direction of effect. It may be that mom's depression is leading the way, or dad's is, or there's some mix family to family. Or there may be other factors associated with it, such as child temperament, crying, or colic."
In addition, the US studies reported a higher average rate of prenatal and postpartum depression at 14.1% (95% CI, 10.9% – 18.0%) than did the international studies at 8.2% (95% CI, 5.9% – 11.1%).
"The observation that expecting and new fathers disproportionately experience depression suggests that more efforts should be made to improve screening and referral, particularly in light of the mounting evidence that early paternal depression may have substantial emotional, behavioral, and developmental effects on children," the study authors write.
"We clearly need to acknowledge that this is a problem," said Dr. Paulson. "Medical professionals need to help convey this information, and we need to screen for it as vigorously as we can."
He added that the association between paternal and maternal depression suggests that "if clinicians see depression in one partner that should prompt them to ask about depression in the other." Plus, intervention efforts that focus on the couple and family rather than on just the individual may be needed, although, he added, "this may be easier said than done."