It is official! Men experience anxiety and depression, both before and after the birth of their child, nearly as much as women do, according to a systematic review. The review was recently published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.
Researchers investigated whether becoming a first-time expectant (partner pregnant) and/or new father (child <1 year) is associated with increases in depression and anxiety. The review which consisted of 43 studies dating back to the 1980’s, showed that 1 in 10 men experience clinical levels of anxiety in the perinatal period.
Symptoms of anxiety can include:
- worrying much of the time
- feeling irritable
- fears for the baby’s safety
- racing heart
- feeling sweaty
- poor sleep
- poor appetite
Lead researcher Dr Leach from the ANU Centre for Ageing, Health and Wellbeing commented,’ “Men can feel left out of the process, because pregnancy and childbirth are so integrally linked to the mother.
“They don’t seek help because they think ‘it’s not so much about me’.”
While most presenting men have “adjustment disorder with anxiety features” some occasionally show signs of post-traumatic stress or obsessive-compulsive disorder, she stated.
Therefore, important lifestyle advice for expectant fathers is that they seek help if the anxiety becomes severe and it follows that GP’s should also include men in antenatal care.