The risk is increased for fathers who are struggling financially and who don’t rely on their partner for support; while better-off dads who do rely on their partners appear less susceptible.
The study, ‘Paternal Post-natal Depression (PPND): Prevalence and Associated Factors’, carried out by public health nurse Lloyd Philpott, involved a survey of 100 fathers ranging in age from 24-50 in the south of Ireland.
While 40 different professions were captured by the survey, one of the more interesting findings was that chefs seemed to be particularly at risk. “While general unemployment wasn’t a factor [in suffering from post-natal depression], two-thirds (66.7%) of the chefs who took part in the survey had scores which showed them at risk,” Mr Philpott said.
Chefs accounted for 6% of the respondents. Mr Philpott said chefs may be more susceptible because hours of work were not always conducive to family life, with many chefs working split-shifts and unsociable hours. Mr Philpott said previous research had shown work/family conflict was a factor in paternal post-natal depression.
Mr Philpott said his research also found that paternity leave was a “statistically significant factor” in increasing the risk of paternal post-natal depression. Those entitled to take paternity leave were less at risk.
Mr Philpott, who co-authored the study with statistician Dr Paul Corcoran, said one of the recommendations following on from his study was that policymakers needed to take a closer look at the Nordic model of paternity leave, which took into account the role of a father as caregiver.
“By not giving paternity leave here, we are looking at a situation where the father is not at home for the first few days of his new baby’s life and we have to ask what does that say about our attitude to the role of the father as caregiver?” Mr Philpott asked.
The study also found that dads living in rented accommodation, unmarried fathers and dads with lower levels of education were more at risk of post-natal depression, but that the type of work they did had a greater bearing than whether they were employed or unemployed.
Fathers with a history of depression were more at risk of paternal post-natal depression, as well as those whose infants had sleep problems or who had colic or who showed failure to thrive. Interestingly, almost three- quarters (74%) of fathers surveyed believed there should be routine screening for paternal post-natal depression.
Almost seven in 10 of the men who participated in the survey were aged 30-40. The findings were presented yesterday at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland 34th Annual International Nursing and Midwifery Research and Education Conference.