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Postpartum depression affects dads too

May 18, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A new study finds that new dads can suffer from postpartum depression too.Alex Zlidenny, 37, and his wife were hoping for one more child, but ended up with twins: 9-month-old Caitlin and Christian. He says during the first six months of their life, he hardly slept.

"It really is just a huge change on your life to have these kids these home," said Zlidenny. "As you can see it is a huge change on your social life and work life."

So Zlidenny isn't surprised about a new Journal of the American Medical Association report that says 1 out of 10 new dads suffer a form of postpartum depression. That's twice the rate of depression found in men in the general population. The first six months is when dads are most vulnerable.

Pediatrician Glen Schlundt says he's often the first to see how parents are handling their new life.

"I think it just takes longer for dads to realize that they are parents," said Dr. Schlundt.

So when the reality of parenthood hits, it can hit dads hard.

"The females undergo some changes with the hormones from being pregnant," said Zlidenny. "The men don't really have that."

Based on their findings, researchers say doctors need to do more to recognize depression in new dads because mounting evidence shows that postpartum depression in dads can substantially impact the child.

"If you have a father who is having difficulties with the adjustment of being a parent then that can certainly have an effect on both the mom and the baby," said Dr. Schlundt.

Dr. Schlundt suggests new dads seek counseling. And the best advice he can give is for them to be open with their feelings.

"Good communication with your wife I think that's the key to any marriage," said Zlidenny.

Symptoms of postpartum depression include: disturbed sleep even when your baby is sleeping, disorganized thinking, shifting moods and extreme agitation. Study authors noted American dads were more likely to suffer depression than their counterparts in other countries.


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