Men can suffer postnatal depression

NEW research has come to light indicating that Australian men are facing increased levels of postnatal depression, in some cases more than women.

The recently published study has contradicted the commonly used rates of postnatal depression in men, which indicated men suffered the condition on average three times less than women.

The new study shows 9.7 per cent of father's suffer the condition in the first 12 months of their child's life versus 9.4 per cent in women.

North Coast Area Health Service men's health nurse David Hughes, who spends much of his time working with cases of prostate cancer and other chronic male health conditions, about five years ago created the "Building Better Dads" program in an effort to educate men about life with a newborn baby. 

He reports that cases of male postnatal depression are "majorly underreported", and says "the reality of being a new parent for men can be depressing - they are not necessarily having the opportunity to spend time with their new family, and society is not necessarily encouraging them to do so."

The Building Better Dads program is currently run four to five times a year out of the Bangalow Community Health Centre, with the next one commencing on May 7.

There are also plans underway to start running the program at Lismore's Men and Family Centre. 

Scott Longden of The Fatherhood Project, a not-for-profit organization encouraging father's to "engage actively and lovingly in their kids' lives", has been involved as a facilitator in the program for a number of years.

He says that "there's not a lot of conversation about how massively men's lives change when a newborn arrives - we want to expand that conversation."

"It's quite common to feel out of your league and overwhelmed."

For men experiencing post-baby blues, Mr Hughes advises that "the first thing they need to do is discuss it with their partner. Do not ignore it, and don't feel guilty about it."

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