New Parents and Depression: Both Men and Women Suffer

Postnatal depression is well-known for mothers, but what about fathers? New research shows that both mothers and fathers can become depressed after their child is born. While the rates for men are lower than women across the board, depression peaks for both genders at the same time: within the first year after the child’s birth. The study looked at almost 87,000 families in the U.K. over a course of 14 years, and tracked parents’ reports of depression from the time of childbirth up to twelve years of age. Each year, 7.53% of all these mothers had depression and 2.69% of all the fathers had depression. The peak year, immediately following birth, saw depression in 13.93% of mothers and 3.56% of fathers.

Exactly what causes that depression is complicated, and the study’s authors believe it can be attributed to a wide range of factors. For women, the hormonal change of giving birth can make the immediate transition difficult, and some believe that women feel, even unconsciously, neglected as the attention turns from themselves to their child. For both men and women, the stress of raising a newborn child means decreased sleep and also strains the relationship and the couple’s financial situation. New parents must also adjust to a new social dynamic, and often experience less social interaction as they stay home to raise the infant. This element, as well as the financial component, is thought to be especially hard on younger parents, who are likely to be more social and less financially well-off.

Another study shows that women who experience psychological abuse during their pregnancy are twice as likely to experience postnatal depression. The challenge with this new data is that many abuse prevention programs focus on protecting women from physical and sexual violence. These are serious needs, but do result in a lack of attention to psychological abuse, say researchers. Screening pregnant women for their psychological well-being and treatment is just as important as ensuring her physical safety. In all cases, it is important for all who work with new and expectant parents to be aware of their mental health needs and direct them to therapy, counseling, and support services as necessary.

© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Hannah


    September 9th, 2010 at 9:01 AM

    seriously it’s the lack of sleep

  • Theordre


    September 9th, 2010 at 11:01 AM

    I am pretty sure these figures would be different when a couple has their first child and when they have another child.Because they would be better experienced as parents when they have a second or third child,you know.

  • Steve


    September 9th, 2010 at 12:39 PM

    When we first had our baby I was so depressed and then felt horrible about feeling that way. My wife just glowed, loved being a new mother but honestly I did not feel that way. I felt left out and ignored. I know that that sounds selfish but that is the emotion that I felt. I loved our child but at the same time I was sad because I felt like my wife and I had lost something together instead of gained something by parenting together. Everything is getting a little better now but it has been tough to go through because I feel like I am not getting the same experience that many new parents get.

  • KgF


    September 9th, 2010 at 3:19 PM

    You know what Steve? What you’re going through is perfectly normal and there is nothing to worry about. My brother felt the exact same way when he had a child and experts told him that its alright. You are bound to feel that way because your wife’s attention is now diverted towards the baby and the new sweetheart gets all the attention :) So just relax and watch as all three of you come together as a family and enjoy each other’s company even more than before :)

  • Diana


    September 9th, 2010 at 6:53 PM

    Well that´s normal my nephew is just two years old and since He was born my brother and his wife started to fight everey single night because of something related to their baby, you know money, doctors, clothes, diapers that She got fat, That he doesn´t care……. well of course all of this will make anyone depressed!!! but well I guess we all wiil pass through that If We want a child right?

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