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Fathers can suffer from postpartum depression too

September 06, 2010
  • Fathers become more vulnerable to depression after their babies are born, according to a new study.
Fathers become more vulnerable to depression after their babies are born,… (Los Angeles Times )

Postpartum depression isn’t just for mothers anymore.

In fact, new fathers have been experiencing elevated rates of depression for some time, according to a study published online Monday in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

A team of British researchers scoured the medical records of nearly 87,000 couples in the U.K. who had a baby between 1993 and 2007. They identified parents who got prescriptions for antidepressant medications or received a diagnosis of depression.

Overall, they found that the rate of depression for mothers was nearly 14 cases per 100 person-years in the first 12 months after a baby was born. That rate dropped to about 6 cases per 100 person-years in the second year and continued to decline slightly over the next decade.

For fathers, the rate of depression in the first year was 3.56 cases per 100 person-years. It then fluctuated between 1.95 and 2.72 cases per 100 person-years until their kids became teenagers.

The researchers also found that more men became vulnerable to depression as the years passed. At the beginning of the study in 1993, the rate of depression for fathers was 1.61 cases per 100 person-years. By 2007, that figure was up to 2.87 cases per 100 person-years.

But on the whole, moms were still more depressed than dads – 39% of mothers experienced at least one episode of depression during the first 12 years of a child’s life, compared with 21% of fathers.

-- Karen Kaplan/Los Angeles Times

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