New dads too face mental health risk

Sydney: Anxiety around the arrival of a new born is just as common as postnatal depression, and the risks for men are nearly as high as for women, says a new study.

Reviewing 43 separate studies, the researchers found anxiety before and after a child arrives is just as prevalent as depression, affecting around one in ten men.

“Having a new baby is a time of great adjustment for many parents, and it is normal to be nervous, but anxiety can become a problem when it persists for extended periods and interferes with every day functioning,” said one of the researchers Liana Leach from The Australian National University.

“Men can feel left out of the process, because pregnancy and childbirth are so integrally linked to the mother,” Leach explained.

So risk factors for anxiety include lack of social support, especially from a partner, financial difficulties and a history of mental health problems.

The symptoms of anxiety can include worrying or feeling keyed up much of the time, feeling irritable, and fears for the baby’s safety.

Physical symptoms can include a racing heart, feeling sweaty, poor sleep and poor appetite.

“Couples should be aware of their mental health right from when they realise they are pregnant. Early intervention reduces the severity and duration of symptoms,” Leach noted.

The study was published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.