Should fathers be screened for postpartum depression?

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New York, Oct 5 (IANS) Fathers also suffer from postpartum depression, and a new pilot study suggests they can and should be screened for the condition.

Given the intertwined effects of mothers’ and fathers’ physical and mental health, addressing the health of fathers may be a powerful untapped tool in improving the ongoing maternal health crisis, said researchers from the University of Illinois Chicago in the US.

For the study, published in the journal BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, researchers interviewed and screened 24 fathers, 30 per cent of whom turned positive for postpartum depression on the same tool that is commonly used to screen mothers.

Lead author Dr. Sam Wainwright from the varsity said this points to the importance of asking new fathers how they’re doing.

“A lot of dads are stressed. They’re scared. They’re struggling with balancing work and parental and partner responsibilities,” he said. “Men are often not doing well, but no one is asking them about it.”

Talking to new fathers about their mental health takes on additional importance when considering how it can impact their partners’ health.

“A woman at risk for postpartum depression is much more likely to get postpartum depression if she has a depressed partner,” said Wainwright, Assistant Professor of internal medicine and pediatrics.

The medical world struggles to connect with young men, who often aren’t eager to see a doctor, Wainwright said, so reaching them as they enter fatherhood presents an important opportunity.

“How can we show them that it’s important to take care of yourself for the sake of your baby, for the sake of your partner and for your own sake?” he said.

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