guardian.co.uk, 6 September 2010
One in five men become depressed after becoming fathers as they juggle lack of sleep, extra responsibilities and a changed relationship with their partners, new research shows. By the time their first child is 12, 21% of fathers have had at least one episode of depression, according to an in-depth study funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC). The findings provide strong evidence that postnatal depression affects significant numbers of men as well as women, and last night prompted calls for fathers-to-be to have their mental state assessed by the NHS in the same way as expectant mothers during their pregnancy. There are worries that problems with a parent’s wellbeing can damage their children’s behaviour and development.
Research scientists led by Professor Irwin Nazareth, director of the MRC’s general practice research framework, studied 86,957 families who received medical care between 1993 and 2007. They identified depression among parents by analysing diagnoses of the condition and antidepressant prescriptions. Some 3% of fathers had had depression in the first year of their child’s life, rising to 10% by the time their offspring was four, 16% by the age of eight and 21% by 12, it was found.