Daddy Depression: Like Father, Like Son

If you are a father feeling depression after the birth of your child, you are not alone. According to a landmark study conducted at the University of Oxford, and published in the British medical journal The Lancet on June 25, fathers can also experience postpartum depression after their child is born. Dad's postpartum depression (DPPD) is a little-known phenomenon that is just now being recognized.

What's compelling about this study is not just its paternal focus, but the proven effect such "daddy depression" can have on children. In fact, the study shows "a doubling risk of behavioral problems in children of fathers who had been depressed eight weeks after the birth," said Paul Ramchandani, M.D., consultant of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Oxford.

This conclusion is based on questionnaires and psychological tests given to 8, 431 fathers, 11,833 mothers, and 10, 024 children. Data was collected from children at birth, 21 months, and one last time when they were three years old. Fathers were tested at eight weeks after birth, again about two years later and a final time when the children were three to five years old. At these intervals, up to seven percent of fathers reported low moods, feelings of sadness, irritability and hopelessness.

The result? Fathers who reported these persisting conditions produced children that, by pre-school age, had significant behavioral problems, such as fearfulness, disruptiveness, and a tendency to overreact. Though PPD instances are higher for mothers-whose illness is linked to general mental health problems in both genders of offspring- DPPD seems limited to behavioral problems in boys.

Knowing your condition could affect your child is all the more reason to seek help for this condition. Any number of factors can lead to postpartum depression in dads, many similar to those that effect mothers: sleep deprivation, anxiety over new roles, upheaval of environment, and feelings of inadequacy.

To prevent these feelings of depression, and secure a bright future for your newborn, seek help for this highly curable condition. Remedies range from simple supportive talks with friends, to professional counseling, to antidepressants. Remember, DPPD is ultimately temporary, and in just a matter of time you'll be enjoying life with your beautiful new family!

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