While most people may say they associate postpartum depression with new mothers, a recent study says don't forget new dads. They too can experience depression during the first five years of fatherhood, particularly if they are around the age of 25 when their child is born.
According to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, men who became fathers at around age 25 saw a 68 percent increase of depressive symptoms over the first five years of being dads. Fathers who participated in the study also lived at the same home as their children.
Researchers looked at 10,623 young men who participated in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and tracked the fathers for about 20 years. During this time records were kept of the dad's depression symptoms.
Interestingly, the fathers who did not share a home with their children didn't experience the same high increase of depression. Most of the new dads participating in the study did live in the same home as their child and had lower depression symptoms before the child's birth. However, once their child was born and through the first few years, they experienced an increase in depression.
Identifying depression symptoms in young fathers is critical, since earlier research shows that depressed dads read and interact less with their kids, are more likely to use corporal punishment, and are more likely to neglect their kids.
"Parental depression has a detrimental effect on kids, especially during those first key years of parent-infant attachment," said lead study author Dr. Craig Garfield, an associate professor in pediatrics and medical social sciences at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, in a statement. "We need to do a better job of helping young dads transition through that time period."
Experts say that many new dads are vulnerable to depression for a variety of reasons. Not only do new moms feel overwhelmed by parenthood, dads do too. Men tend to worry about providing financially for their family, miss their pre-child schedule and freedom and they may not be good at expressing their feelings – keeping their emotions bundled inside.
Like new moms, dads need support, encouragement and reassurance as they face the challenges of parenthood.
Source: Alexandra Sifferlin, http://time.com/61021/young-dads-are-at-risk-for-postpartum-depression/