Young dads may also suffer from baby blues, study suggests
An infant drinks from a bottle in this 2011 file photo. (AP Photo/James B. Hale)
Published Thursday, April 17, 2014 8:10AM EDT
As it turns out, mothers aren't the only ones subject to postpartum depression. A study published in the journal Pediatrics revealed that young men who became fathers around age 25 typically experienced a sharp increase in depressive symptoms following the arrival of a child.
The new findings suggest that between 5 and 10% of young men (aged 24 to 32) will experience an increase in sadness or anxiety or an inability to enjoy life during the first years of fatherhood.
Led by Craig F. Garfield of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, the investigation looked at 10,623 young men enrolled in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which examined various health factors over the course of 20 years. The participants responded to a questionnaire on depressive symptoms throughout the duration of the study.
Around 33% of the men became fathers between ages 24 and 32, and the majority of the new dads lived in the same household with their child. Based on the questionnaires, researchers concluded that young men who were aged around 25 years when they became fathers were 68% more likely to develop symptoms of depression, as long as they shared a home with their child. The symptoms were not as likely to develop among the young fathers who lived separately from their child.
"Parental depression has a detrimental effect on kids, especially during those first key years of parent-infant attachment," Garfield points out. In 2011, the researcher published another study in Pediatrics showing that depressed fathers were more likely to spank their children.
"We knew paternal depression existed and the detrimental effects it has on children, but we did not know where to focus our energy and our attention until this study," Garfield said. The findings suggest that young fathers could benefit from more guidance and attention to help them cope with the transition into parenthood.