Not Just Moms, Dads Too Suffer From Postpartum Depression | Lifestyle Health

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Sydney: If you thought only women suffered from depression during pregnancy and after childbirth, you may be wrong. New research shows that men also face severe mood swings during the time around the birth of their child, but their condition is often overlooked.

Researchers from Deakin University in Australia dug up posts from Reddit and found that fathers’ posting behaviors around the time of their child’s birth can be a warning sign of depression.

One in five fathers suffer from anxiety during the perinatal period – the period before and after the birth of their child. One in ten people also suffer from depression.

However, mental health support for fathers in the perinatal period is limited, the study published in JMIR Pediatrics and Parenting reveals.

“It’s a huge public health problem that’s not really being addressed,” said Dr. Sam Teague, who until recently was a postdoctoral fellow at Deakin’s Center for Social and Early Emotional Development.

Research in this area is also limited – few researchers focus on fathers, and those who struggle to find fathers with time to participate between work and new family commitments.

Teague analyzed thousands of posts on Reddit’s fatherhood forums r/Daddit and r/PreDaddit to better understand what issues dads face and what kind of support they want.

Dads often post about milestones like pregnancy announcements and activities like father bonding, Teague found. But the topic with most users and posts was the challenges of fatherhood: struggles, budget and sleep.

“One of the things that jumped out is that men tend to prefer sharing informational support with each other. This is where they share specific advice or information to solve a problem,” Teague reports.

Teague’s machine-learning algorithm could predict with almost 70% accuracy which dads would use more language reflecting postpartum depression based on their postpartum posting habits.

“The impact on social engagement is a key symptom of depression. This is expressed online in fathers’ posting behaviors,” she says.

Reddit users were quick to respond to posts about common challenges, like issues in the home environment or broader societal issues. But when posters shared individual challenges like mental health issues, the community was less available to help, Teague said.

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