It could happen to any of us. Your period is late and you decide to buy a pregnancy test kit just to check if your suspicion is correct. Two lines—you’re pregnant. You have a bun in the oven. But where is the giddy feeling of expecting your little bundle of joy? Even after months into the pregnancy, you still feel out of touch.
According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, antenatal or prenatal depression affects 14 to 23 percent of pregnant women. It often goes unrecognized and undiagnosed because symptoms—such as changes in sleep, appetite, and libido—are attributed to normal pregnancy changes in a woman’s body. Plus, it’s difficult for a pregnant woman to admit and voice out that she's not as excited as she should be about being on the family way.
Now, it turns out that dads-to-be experience prenatal depression, too.
Researchers from the McGill University Health CenterResearch Institute found that 13.3 percent of expecting dads showed symptoms of depression. The study, published in the American Journal of Men’s Health, found that the condition usually creeps in six months prior to the birth of their child. Most of the 622 dads-to-be that were surveyed reported issues with mood swings, physical activity, sleep quality, financial stress, and marital dynamics.
“The mental health of men remains a neglected area of research and one that is not adequately addressed during the transition to parenthood,” says Dr. Deborah Da Costa, associate professor of medicine at McGill University and the study's lead author. Having prenatal depression increases the chance of a person having postnatal depression. Dr. Deborah suggests that expecting fathers seek professional help early on, as it may worsen once the baby arrives.
Like expecting moms, soon-to-be dads can also take preventive measures to treat prenatal depression by going through counseling or therapy. Clinical psychologist Dr. Theresa Castillo-Masilunganstresses that, as with postnatal depression, help and support from family members and close friends can be crucial.
Last year, a study published in the journal Depression and Anxiety by researchers from the Manchester University and Newcastle University also found that pregnant women who practiced yoga had significantly decreased anxiety scores. In the same way, some form of exercise might be able to help expecting dads, too.
Sources: October 6, 2015. “Expectant Dads Get the Blues, Too” (time.com) August, 21, 2009. “Depression During Pregnancy: Treatment Recommendations” (acog.org)