Nov 13, 2023 - Health

New dads should be tested for postpartum depression, study says

Illustration of a brain surrounded by medical crosses and lines

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new study from the University of Illinois Chicago suggests new dads should be tested for postpartum depression.

Why it matters: Identifying and treating depression in new fathers can improve their relationships with their partner and child, and the overall mental health of the family.

Driving the news: The study, released last month, found that 30% of the 24 participants showed signs of depression between 1 and 15 months after their child was born.

Zoom in: Researchers interviewed fathers actively involved with the mother of their child, asking them to rate their stress levels with finances, their relationship with the mother and their role as a new dad.

  • The mean age of the participants was 31 years old, and most said they belonged to a racial or ethnic minority group.

Of note: The participants came from UI's Two-Generation Clinic, which started in 2020 as a way to serve the health needs of mothers and their children at the same time. The university found that mothers often neglect their own health despite being diligent about their child's health care.

The big picture: Several studies show postpartum depression affects about 8-13% of fathers, and that can increase to 50% of fathers when the mother is also experiencing the disease, per UIC.

What they're saying: Respondents told researchers they were hesitant to acknowledge their feelings out of fear of adding more stress to the mothers of their children.

What's next: Sam Wainwright, a pediatrician who led the study, continues to work with new fathers at UI Health's obstetrics clinic and said he hopes to expand his outreach to the pediatrics department.


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