(Australian Associated Press)
Symptoms of depression in men
* Constant tiredness or exhaustion
* Ongoing headache and muscle tension
* Loss of interest in sex
* Changes in appetite
* Sleep problems (unrelated to baby’s sleep)
* Ongoing irritability, anger or moodiness
* Emotional withdrawal from partner, baby, family, friends
Postnatal depression among new fathers may be more common than previously believed, with a new study raising concern about the effectiveness of screening methods.
A study study from Lund University in Sweden of 447 new fathers found the established method of detecting depression (EPDS, Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale) works poorly on men.
“This means that current statistics may not tell the whole truth when it comes to depression in new fathers,” co-author Elia Psouni – associate professor of developmental psychology said.
“The screening method does not capture symptoms which are particularly common in men, such as irritation, restlessness, low stress tolerance, and lack of self-control,” Assoc Prof Psouni said.
The study showed one-third of the depressed fathers had thoughts of hurting themselves, however few had been in contact with the healthcare system.
Among those who were classified as being moderately-to-severely depressed, 83 per cent had not shared their suffering with anyone. Although difficult to know, the corresponding figure for new mothers is believed to be 20-50 per cent.
In Australia, it’s thought 1-in-20 men experience depression during the pregnancy, known as antenatal depression, and up to 1-in-10 new dads struggle following the birth (postnatal depression).
According to support group PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia), antenatal or postnatal depression can make a man feel like he’s “trapped” or “pacing in a cage”. They often feel wound up, frustrated or unable to relax.
The researchers believe lengthening the screening period for new fathers beyond 12 months is needed to ensure they receive the support they need.
“Among dads, depression is common, even at the end of the first year, which may be due to the fact that they rarely get help, but there may be other explanations. Whatever the reason, it is important to monitor dads’ wellbeing as their part of the parental leave usually occurs towards the end of the child’s first year of life,” Assoc Prof Psouni said.