“Overlooked Postpartum Depression in Fathers: A Critical Study from the University of Illinois Chicago”

by Amir Hussein
6 comments
Postpartum Depression in Fathers

A recent investigation conducted by the University of Illinois Chicago has brought to light the often-overlooked issue of postpartum depression in fathers. This pilot study underscores the pressing need for screening and addressing this condition among new fathers, highlighting its significance not only for their own well-being but also for the overall health of their families.

The study’s findings reveal that fathers can indeed experience postpartum depression, and it suggests that they should undergo screening for this condition. Given the intricate interplay between the physical and mental health of both mothers and fathers, addressing the mental health of fathers could prove to be a potent, yet untapped resource in tackling the ongoing maternal health crisis facing the nation.

To arrive at these conclusions, the researchers obtained consent from mothers to interview and screen 24 fathers. Alarmingly, 30% of these fathers tested positive for postpartum depression using the same screening tool typically employed for mothers. Dr. Sam Wainwright, the lead author of the study, emphasized the importance of engaging new fathers in conversations about their mental well-being. Many fathers, he noted, grapple with stress and anxiety while trying to balance the demands of work, parenthood, and partnership. However, these struggles often go unnoticed as no one is addressing them.

Furthermore, the study underscores the impact of fathers’ mental health on mothers. A woman who has a depressed partner is significantly more likely to experience postpartum depression herself, according to Dr. Wainwright, who serves as an assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics.

It is worth noting that previous studies have estimated that 8% to 13% of new fathers experience postpartum depression. However, the prevalence in this study appeared to be higher, possibly due to the fact that nearly 90% of the participants belonged to racial or ethnic groups facing structural racism and social determinants that can exacerbate mental health issues.

The study was conducted at UI Health’s Two-Generation Clinic, which was established in 2020. This clinic recognizes that new mothers, especially those from low-resource backgrounds and communities of color, often prioritize their children’s healthcare over their own. Consequently, it offers mothers primary care during their children’s visits. Regrettably, fathers were often excluded from this process. In response, the clinic’s team initiated conversations with fathers to assess their well-being, leading to the inception of this study.

Moreover, these conversations sparked a broader research project that Dr. Wainwright has undertaken to delve deeper into fathers’ experiences, particularly concerning their mental and physical health. He has expanded his efforts by engaging with fathers-to-be in obstetrics waiting areas and even screening them for conditions such as high blood pressure during these interactions.

Engaging young men in healthcare remains a challenge, as many are hesitant to seek medical attention. Dr. Wainwright emphasized the unique opportunity presented when these men become fathers. As a result of the postpartum depression study, some men who did not previously have a primary care physician are now seeking medical care from Dr. Wainwright, and others are requesting mental health services.

Ultimately, the overarching goal of this research is to gain a better understanding of how to help men maintain good health, not only for their own well-being but also for the sake of their relationships and families. Dr. Wainwright underscores the importance of conveying the message that self-care is essential, not just for the fathers themselves but for the well-being of their babies and partners.

Reference:
“Screening fathers for postpartum depression in a maternal-child health clinic: a program evaluation in a midwest urban academic medical center” by Sam Wainwright, Rachel Caskey, Aida Rodriguez, Abigail Holicky, Melissa Wagner-Schuman, and Anne Elizabeth Glassgow, 19 September 2023, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth.
DOI: 10.1186/s12884-023-05966-y

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Postpartum Depression in Fathers

What is the main finding of the University of Illinois Chicago study?

The main finding of the University of Illinois Chicago study is that fathers can experience postpartum depression, and it emphasizes the importance of screening them for this condition.

How was the study conducted?

The study involved obtaining consent from mothers to interview and screen 24 fathers. The screening tool commonly used for mothers was employed to assess postpartum depression in fathers.

Why is it significant to address postpartum depression in fathers?

Addressing postpartum depression in fathers is crucial because it not only affects their well-being but also has a significant impact on the mental health of their partners. A depressed partner is more likely to contribute to postpartum depression in mothers.

What percentage of fathers in the study screened positive for postpartum depression?

Approximately 30% of the fathers in the study screened positive for postpartum depression using the same screening tool as mothers.

Why did the study’s prevalence of postpartum depression in fathers appear to be higher than previous estimates?

The higher prevalence in this study is attributed to the fact that nearly 90% of the participants belonged to racial or ethnic groups facing structural racism and social determinants that can exacerbate mental health issues.

How is the Two-Generation Clinic involved in this research?

The Two-Generation Clinic at UI Health played a pivotal role in this research by offering primary care to mothers during their children’s visits. However, it initially left fathers out of the healthcare equation, leading to conversations with fathers and the inception of this study.

What are the broader goals of the research related to fathers’ well-being?

The overarching goal of this research is to gain a better understanding of how to help fathers maintain good health, not only for their own well-being but also for the sake of their relationships and families. It aims to encourage fathers to prioritize self-care for the benefit of their babies and partners.

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6 comments

BusyMomma October 9, 2023 - 12:56 am

glad they talkin’ 2 dads now. dey stressed too, need help!

Reply
CuriousMind October 9, 2023 - 3:16 am

study @ Uni of Illinois find dads can hav postpartum depres. famlies need 2 kno bout this!

Reply
FamilyFirst October 9, 2023 - 3:37 am

takin care of dad’s health = takin care of the whole fam. importnt msg!

Reply
ResearchNerd October 9, 2023 - 7:42 am

High rates in dads from racial groups, shows more work 2 do 2 fight racism.

Reply
HealthAdvocate October 9, 2023 - 8:34 am

thx 4 sharin’ dis. dads’ mental health impact mums’ health, 4 real.

Reply
Reader123 October 9, 2023 - 2:34 pm

wow, this is so importnt. dads gettin’ depreshun is serius. need screenin’ 4 them!

Reply

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