1 in 10 new dads experiences post-partum depression

PHOTO: 1 in 10 new dads experiences post-partum depression

SINGAPORE - Recently welcomed a new baby into the family?

Men, pay attention.

You are also prone to post-partum - or birth - depression (PPD).

The ecstasy of seeing your child for the first time, all that pride and joy, can quickly fade in the reality of a screaming infant needing near-constant care.

This is a stressful time and new parents often report fights with their partners.

And while mum gets a few weeks' off, dad is likely to have to go back work, feeling totally exhausted.

"You don't want to miss out on things or be an absent dad, so you push it a little, and try to help," says Mr Lucas Chong, 34, whose child is now a little over two years' old.

But one in 10 dads experiences something more serious, according to a 2010 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"The definition is the same as it is for maternal post-partum depression," the study's co-author James Paulson, an associate professor of psychology at Old Dominion University in Virginia, US, who has been studying paternal PPD since 2004, told the Washington Post.

Postpartummen.com describes PPD like this: "Now, you've lost your sense of humour, and there's not much to look forward to.

"You've started getting more anxious or panicky. You've had trouble sleeping. And you're miserable a lot of the time.

"Or perhaps you've been irritable. You're getting more stressed at work and getting angry with your wife.

"Maybe you've noticed you're drinking more - or withdrawing from people."

Left untreated, it can result in damaging, long-term consequences for you, your kids, your marriage, your career and even your finances.

Paternal PPD can happen anytime during the first year of the child's life.

And it doesn't necessarily present itself in stereotypical ways - sadness, crying or feelings of worthlessness.

"Instead, it's a sense of detachment, a loss of ability to connect with what's important in the world or the inability to experience pleasure," Dr Paulson said.

Risk factors include a poor relationship with your partner, the family and economic problems.

Some dads also feel resentment at feeling excluded from the closeness experienced between mother and child.

Up to half of men whose partners are depressed are also depressed.

The conditions are often exacerbated because men don't like to admit that they need help.

Experts recommend talking to a mental health expert or finding support groups or friends who also recently had babies.

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