Post-partum depression in new mothers is a well-documented medical condition. Most medical practitioners routinely advise their pregnant patients to watch out for the symptoms after they give birth. These symptoms may include insomnia, mood swings and crying bouts. Post-partum depression is linked to psychological, chemical and even social factors that are associated with giving birth.

On the other hand, relatively little is known about new fathers being at risk for depression. A new U.S. study unearthed this connection when it analyzed the data gathered from a long-term health study involving more than 10,000 male subjects. The study followed the subjects over a period of 20 years beginning in their teenage years.

Significant Findings

A majority of the subjects eventually transitioned into fatherhood. The researchers found that new resident fathers reported the lowest depression scores, which means they were the least likely to become depressed. Non-resident fathers on the other hand, scored the highest depression scores. The scores of the male subjects who did not become fathers fell somewhere in between the scores recorded for resident and non-resident fathers.

This makes perfect sense because resident fathers share in the euphoria of having their newborn child with them, while non-resident fathers are deprived of this life-changing experience.

However, during the first five years of the child’s life, there was a marked 68 percent increase in the depression scores of resident fathers. This finding is highly significant because this time frame coincides with crucial stages in early childhood development.

Effects of Paternal Depression on Child Development

Young fathers who are depressed can have a long-term impact on a child’s growth and development. Depressed fathers are more likely to disengage themselves from caring for their young children. They are also prone to employ harsh and inappropriate parenting methods like spanking and screaming. Paternal depression can also impact the marital relationship. This strain could increase the negative child-rearing behaviors of both parents.

Vigilance Is Key

Fathers play an important role in a child’s early development. Knowing that this new role in life puts them at risk for depression means they need to be monitored more closely and their symptoms need to be treated earlier before they escalate. By looking out for the mental health of new fathers, their children are given the best chances of enjoying a robust and healthy early childhood.

Here at Rodriguez MD, we treat not only the symptoms of an illness but also the underlying causes of it. We are a comprehensive Lawrenceville family health center that uses state-of-the-art technology to diagnose and treat our patients. Some of the services we offer include preventative health, family planning, medical weight loss and allergy testing. Trust your family’s health and well-being to the caring doctors here at Rodriguez MD.