Men who have been depressed at other times in their lives, as well as men who suffered from bullying or have a bad relationship with their own fathers are especially vulnerable.
“Many studies show that around 10% of men and women have depressive reactions during pregnancy,” said Birgitta Rydén, who recently presented her PhD thesis at Lund University.
She also found that infidelity, an increase of drug abuse and physical abuse are indicators of male depression in connection with an impending birth.
“Abusive men as well as unengaged fathers are insecure about their male identity and their parental role,” she added.
“If we try and prevent the depression from developing and support these men in connection with the pregnancy we can gain much for the future.”
Children do best when their parents are in good mental and physical health. In Sweden “Barn och mödravård centralen” offer a safety net for mother and children’s mental and physical ill health. Birgitta Rydén would like to see men included in this.
Their psychological ill health also needs to be treated proactively and in good time. Through questionnaires and interviews Birgitta Rydén found that one cause of the male birth-depression is a reaction to his partner’s fears.
But whereas the new mother can blame the fact of her tiredness on breast feeding and giving birth, the men don’t have such obvious explanation for feeling bad.
Ryden wants to see more individualised care than is offered today, and she wants both men and women to have access to support during pregnancy.
“Instead of mother and child centres we should have more family centres such as those we already have in some parts of the country.”
Lysanne Sizoo is a certified Counsellor, specialising in bereavement, fertility and cultural assimilation issues. She also runs a support and discussion group for English speaking women. You can contact her on [email protected], or 08 717 3769. More information on www.sizoo.nu.