There’s a new study that suggests fathers who suffer from postnatal depression is linked to depression in their daughters, but not until their teenage years. While a lot of people know that moms often suffer from postnatal depression, there are quite a lot of dads that have the post baby blues, too. Here’s what you need to know.
A new study by the journal JAMA Psychiatry suggests that one in 20 new fathers suffer from depression in the weeks after their child is born. What’s more, girls whose fathers had experienced depression were at a greater risk of having the condition themselves later on in their lives, too.
One of the reasons for this is the “handing on” effect. The study’s researchers believe that when one parent is depressed, this causes a life disruption for everyone in the family. What’s more, having one or both parents with depression affects the way in which parents interact with their children, but it’s unclear as to why girls are more affected than boys.
The study’s co-author, Professor Paul Ramchandani of the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge, puts it this way: “Research from this study of families in Bristol has already shown that fathers can experience depression in the postnatal period as well as mothers. What is new in this paper is that we were able to follow up the young people from birth through to the age of 18, when they were interviewed about their own experience of depression. Those young people whose fathers had been depressed back when they were born had an increased risk of depression at age 18 years.”
Many people know that a mother's postpartum depression is triggered largely by hormonal fluctuations—and studies show that a man's hormones also shift during pregnancy and after birth, for reasons that are still unknown.
When it comes to postnatal depression, there are several signs to look out for. It can last from a few days to a few weeks and include symptoms like crying spells, anxiety, inability to sleep, and quick fluctuations in mood. There’s also a change in appetite, energy level, concentration, daily behavior, or self-esteem. With clinical depression, the persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest that characterizes major depression can lead to a range of behavioral and physical symptoms.
For treatment, many doctors suggest medication such as antidepressants. Research suggests these treatments may normalize brain changes associated with depression. Electroconvulsive therapy is another option. If you need more information or feel as though you need to talk to someone about postnatal depression, talk to a trusted family member, friend or health professional.