Guest blogger Kate Tuttle: According to a new study published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, new fathers, just like new mothers, face an increased risk of depression -- and that risk remains high much longer than had previously been assumed, sometimes lasting until children are in adolescence.
Attention, researchers: I could have told you that. No matter how much we love our kids, having them in the house is simply stressful. As delightful as they often are, they make demands that no other people make of us, rob us of our sleep and require our careful attention for literally years and years. Parenting is hard and it depletes our resources, so it's no surprise that it can leave us vulnerable to suffering from depression
So if this research -- which looked at family
records for over 80,000 births -- doesn't contain anything particularly shocking (as more than one commenter on the New York Times health blog
pointed out, it's a study of the obvious), why is it making news? Partly because up until now, very little attention has been paid to the mental and emotional health of new fathers. We all know about postpartum depression
as a potential problem for new moms, but it makes a lot of sense that caregivers should begin to check in with new dads as well. The old saying goes, "If mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" -- but if mama and papa are both
, their kids are at very real risk.
So what can be done? Better screening, for one thing. Parents who have previously suffered from depression
are at higher risk for postpartum depression
, as are parents who are younger or who lack social and financial supports. (Again, no shock there.) Identifying and supporting these couples before or soon after their children are born is the best possible gift we could give their children -- who, after all, will join our children in making our future.