Depression after childbirth is also apparent in the father, but the problem remains poorly understood and may not be detected, warns a new British study.
Researchers from Anglia Ruskin University report in the Journal of Mental Health that only 76% of the 400 or so participants in their research realized that something was wrong with dad, after reading his symptoms, compared to 97% for mum. .
Even more sharply, 90% of the subjects acknowledged that the mother was suffering from postpartum depression, but only 46% of them came to this conclusion in the case of dad.
21% of the participants felt that the man was simply tired, compared to 0.5% for the woman.
The problem is more widespread than we think.
About 10% of dads will have depression before the baby is one year old, but when mom has postpartum depression, dad’s risk increases by 50%, according to some studies.
However, it could very well be that this 10% is just the tip of the iceberg.
“In medicine […], it’s clear we find what we’re looking for,” said Dr. Carmel. Dad’s postpartum depression is something we are beginning to recognize, which is becoming more and more topical, but is not necessarily a recognized phenomenon for which we do common-sense screening..”
More known in women
The mother will receive care throughout her pregnancy and will therefore benefit from a little follow-up by default on this subject. Several questions will be asked about her mental health, since the obstetrical teams are very aware of the problem of postpartum depression in women.
It’s not the same for the father.
In the studies, several fathers mention that their presence is sometimes ignored when they are at the rendezvous, or we will not ask questions about the dad as such, so it’s easy to miss.
The father and the mother will experience the transition to parenthood in a very different way. The mother grew up with the baby and saw her body transform. For the father, the transition is much less concrete. He will have to forge a new identity and assume a new male role, with more or less time to prepare and more or less experience to do so.
“Sometimes dads can be very helpless in this transition, which can even be traumatic when you think of complicated pregnancies and complicated deliveries,” says Dr. Carmel.
They may be confronted with their helplessness, their ignorance, they have the misery to communicate their experience to the team […] or even to their partner. It really transforms their lives at the level of the couple, at the personal level, at the professional level, and the expectations and the reality do not always meet.
The basic symptoms of postpartum depression in the father – such as a lack of motivation or pleasure – may be similar to those of the mother.
But for the father, warns Dr. Carmel, there may also be particular expressions that will not necessarily be recognized as manifestations of depression.
“In studies, we see that many fathers express fatigue, a lot of irritability, anger … There is a higher risk of alcohol and drug use. There may also be some emotional avoidance by the father, “she said.
The first months with a baby are often not easy and are often marked by a lack of sleep and a lot of stress, and you have to be aware of it.
“Another important message is to value the unique role of dad and not ignore him when he is present,” she concluded.