Depressed Fathers Could Be More Common Than We Previously Thought

Calls for improved testing

Troy Nankervis

8 November 2017

Troy Nankervis

Article heading image for Depressed Fathers Could Be More Common Than We Previously Thought

Better screening tests for depression in new fathers has been called for by researchers, after a study found rates in men could be higher than previously thought.

In a study of 447 new fathers, the established method of detecting depression (EPDS, Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale) was found to work poorly on men.

And with previous studies estimating up to eight per cent of new dads could be battling the mental health condition, associate professor of developmental psychology and co-author of the study Elia Psouni said current statistics “may not tell the whole truth”.

 “The screening method does not capture symptoms which are particularly common in men, such as irritation, restlessness, low stress tolerance, and lack of self-control,” she said.

“Telling people you feel depressed is taboo. As a new parent, you are expected to be happy.

“On top of that, previous research has shown that men are often reluctant to seeking help for mental health issues, especially depression.

"Therefore it’s doubtful that they would reveal their suffering to a paediatric nurse.”

Ms Psouni said detecting depression in new parents was significant given depressed parents could become less perceptive to the needs of their child – with a potential a follow-on impact to a child’s development.

To speak with someone immediately, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467. If there is a life is in danger, call 000 or go directly to emergency services.

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