It’s not just women who get postnatal depression – men suffer as well, a new study by the Medical Research Council (MRC) reveals. It found that one in five fathers has had at least one bout of depression by the time their eldest child reaches secondary school.
The MRC study is a landmark research involving 86,957 families, reports The Guardian. It discovered that “3% of fathers had been depressed in the first year of their child’s life, rising to 10% by the time their child was four, 16% by eight and 21% by twelve”. Mothers, of course, were not immune and showed even higher susceptibility to postnatal depression. However, it was the extent of postnatal depression in fathers that drew attention, as it was the first time that the issue surfaced.
"It is a much bigger problem than is generally recognised," says Liz Wise, a postnatal depression counselor who advises the National Childbirth Trust on the issue. "We know it’s a problem for mothers – but there’s hardly any support for them, and almost nothing for fathers.”
"People think it’s all about hormones in new mothers, but in fact hormones are only a small part of the problem. The other trigger-points can hit men just as easily as they hit women – things such as issues in their past life (for example, abuse) which come to the surface when a baby is born, feeling isolated, being under financial pressure, and having had IVF treatment. The men I see with PND [postnatal depression]are more likely to have partners with PND,” explains Wise.
“The sad thing is that men are even less likely than women to come forward for help – and no one is looking out for them, so their problems go unnoticed,” says the Guardian. “Moreover, it’s the next generation who will be picking up the pieces, as parental depression has a huge knock-on effect.”
So, just as the "new women" discovered two decades ago, it seems that the "new men" of today aren’t having it all, either.