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Sleep deprivation depressing new dads

19-05-2010

New fathers are more likely to suffer from depression compared to other men largely because of the sleep deprivation that comes with a baby, it has been reported this week.

While post natal depression is a widely-known and complex issue among new mothers, evidence of an equivalent syndrome in men has rarely been anything more than anecdotal. However, The Vancouver Sun reports that information collated from some 43 studies involving 28,000 men revealed a tendency for depression in expectant or new fathers, with the rate increasing in the months following a birth.

The well-researched female post natal depression issue points to a number of likely causes, from volatile hormonal shifts and sleep loss to relationship, social and financial changes. Although men of course aren’t subjected to the body changes that women go through, the sleep deprivation element is often the same, which can have a devastating cumulative effect on wellbeing over time.

The general rate of depression among men is around 5%, however this doubled to 10.4% in the test participants who were expecting or very recently had babies, and that figure more than doubled again to 25.6% in those men whose babies were three to six months old.

The increase in depression as the baby gets older is attributed to huge conflicting demands on a new father’s time, and an ongoing lack of sleep.

“The bloke’s gone back to work, he’s probably disrupted, he’s probably not getting a lot of sleep, he’s probably got competing priorities, things are shifting,” said John Oliffe from the University of British Columbia, speaking to the Vancouver Sun. “Just disrupting that, for want of a better term – ‘type A’ fellow – it can be enough to push someone into a different space and get them feeling down.”

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