New Study Recommends Screening Fathers For Postpartum Depression

In Education

A pilot study at the University of Illinois Chicago indicates that fathers can experience postpartum depression and should be screened for it. This finding highlights the importance of addressing fathers’ mental health alongside mothers’ for the overall improvement of maternal health in the country.

Dads may experience postpartum depression

In the study, researchers obtained consent from mothers to interview and assess 24 fathers for postpartum depression using a common screening tool. Surprisingly, 30% of the interviewed fathers tested positive for postpartum depression. This highlights the significance of routinely inquiring about the well-being of new fathers, as emphasized by lead author Dr. Sam Wainwright.

Many fathers are experiencing stress and fear while trying to juggle their work, parenting, and partner duties. This issue often goes unnoticed, and it’s crucial to address it, not only for the fathers’ well-being but also because it can affect their partners’ mental health.

According to Wainwright, an assistant professor of internal medicine and paediatrics the risk of postpartum depression is significantly higher for women with depressed partners. This study indicates a potentially higher rate of postpartum depression among new fathers, around 8% to 13%, which might be influenced by the participants’ racial or ethnic backgrounds, as many face challenges related to structural racism and social determinants impacting mental health.

Women of color neglect their healthcare due to parenting challenges

The study published in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, conducted at UI Health’s Two-Generation Clinic, aimed to address the issue of low-resource mothers, particularly those of color, who often neglect their healthcare due to the challenges of parenthood and structural obstacles. The clinic was established in 2020 to tackle this problem.

The Two-Generation Clinic efficiently utilizes children’s doctor visits to provide primary care for mothers simultaneously. However, fathers were often neglected in this system. The clinic team started engaging with fathers and discovered that many of them were secretly stressed while trying to support their partners.

Wainwright explained that the primary objective of this research is to enhance men’s well-being, ensuring the health of their relationships and families.

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