While the “baby blues” are well documented in peri-partum women, little is known or understood about depression in men undergoing the transition to fatherhood.

New research from McGill University in Montreal shows that dads get sad, too. In an abstract at the Men’s Health World Congress, Deborah Da Costa, PhD, and collaborators prospectively evaluated 469 men for depressive symptoms during the first prenatal year using validated self-reported questionnaires.

The results showed that 13% of expectant fathers exhibited depressive symptoms.  This was associated with some independent factors, including unemployment, poorer sleep quality, lower perceived social support, greater financial stressors and increased depression in their partners.

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Paternal depression can have detrimental effects on children’s early behavior and emotional development. Fathers at risk for depression will require strategies to promote better sleep, manage stress and mobilize social support.