Depression In New Dads: New Data And Awareness

You may be aware that rates of depression are high in women, and that depression can increase in new moms. But new data, drawn from a powerful longitudinal design, suggest that new dads are vulnerable to depression as well.

How vulnerable? Analyses of over 2 decades of prospective data collected on over 10,000 males in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health suggested that depressive symptoms in dads increase by as much as 68% following the birth of child (and extending out 5 years after). These were “resident” dads, meaning those living with the child.

Depression in dads, like mom, can compromise parenting. Depressed dads are more likely to be angry/hostile with a child, and less engaged in play and talk.

While the study does not go into the factors that predict which men are most likely to become depressed following the birth of a dad, the immediate takeaway is to promote awareness of signs of depression in men, and to encourage early intervention. As the symptoms of depression in men can differ somewhat from the typical signs in women, it’s useful to be aware of key signs of depression in dads.

There are many successful treatments for depression. As depression can be episodic (it can keep coming back over time), intervention is especially important in buffering against future increases in depressive symptoms. So if a new dad (or any dad) is showing potential signs of depression, it is well worth the time to seek out an evaluation and determine if a treatment plan is warranted.

Happy Dad and Baby via Shutterstock.com

Find out if you are ready for another child.

Mental Health Disorders: It's Not Your Fault
Mental Health Disorders: It's Not Your Fault
Mental Health Disorders: It's Not Your Fault

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  1. [...] we see new data accumulating suggesting that new dads are particularly susceptible to depression, it bears repeating that there is good evidence that treating depression in dads can lead to rapid [...]