How do men experience postnatal depression?

Published: 7 May 2021 at 08:54

A dad holding a baby

Study needs volunteers to help improve support currently offered to fathers

Psychologists from Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) are carrying out important new research in order to help men who are suffering from paternal postnatal depression.

Postnatal depression was originally thought to be caused by hormonal changes and was a condition that only affected mothers. It is now acknowledged to be a non-psychotic depressive disorder affecting both sexes.

While maternal postnatal depression is now widely researched and health workers are vigilant to offer support for new mothers, it is still common for symptoms in men to go undetected and untreated. This is despite it affecting an estimated one in 10 new fathers.

Researchers from Anglia Ruskin are appealing for men who have struggled with postnatal depression to come forward and discuss their own experiences, with the aim of improving how health systems help fathers in the future.

Caroline Estrella, a PhD researcher at Anglia Ruskin, said:

“Postnatal depression has historically been viewed as a condition affecting new mothers, but more and more evidence has been emerging suggesting that fathers are similarly likely to have the condition. 

“Research published earlier this year by academics from the University of Colorado examined data from 23 different studies, involving over 40,000 participants, and discovered the prevalence of postnatal anxiety to be almost 12% amongst fathers, showing men do struggle around the time their child is born.

“However, in order to better help fathers with postnatal depression, it is important for us to know exactly how men experience distress, the support networks that are available to them, and the type of help they feel they need.”

Take part

The researchers are currently carrying out online interviews with men who have struggled with postnatal depression. To take part, men must be a biological adult father of born children and must be cohabiting with the mother of their child.

To register your interest or for further information, email Caroline Estrella at [email protected].