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Thursday, June 01, 2023

Northwestern study: Depression following fatherhood found in young men

A recent study conducted by researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine revealed some troubling realities for young fathers.

The study, published in Pediatrics Digest, followed 10,253 young men ages 24 to 32 from 1994 to 2005. By the end of the time period, 33 percent of the men were fathers. Of those men, 68 percent showed an increase in depressive symptoms.

It also suggested that main factors causing depression were living with their children, living with a spouse suffering from a form of maternal depression and fathering a child with behavioral or emotional issues.

According to the study, depression affects between 5 and 10 percent of fathers while postpartum depression and other forms of depression affect between 10 and 15 percent of mothers.

The study also showed there are few – and, in some states, no – programs that provide services and counseling for new fathers experiencing depression.

UF sociology professor William Marsiglio said the increase in paternal depression in the past decade could be related to a change in what fatherhood means.

“Fathers are now increasingly experiencing conflicts with work and family, to the extent that some might be experiencing psychological depression,” Marsiglio said.

Marsiglio said younger fathers are also transitioning into adulthood while taking on fatherhood, which may contribute to their stress levels and put them at risk for depression.

For UF food science and human nutrition junior DJ Staub, fatherhood brought on many of these emotions and experiences.

The 21-year-old became a dad four years ago.

Staub said he had to embrace adulthood before he was ready because he knows his daughter depends on him to succeed in school and in life.

“You are responsible for the safety and well-being of another person, which is an incredible change when you’re living the carefree life that most young people enjoy,” Staub said.

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Although Staub is younger than the men in the study, he said more should be done to help fathers who suffer from depression.

“Sometimes it’s harder for men to be open and honest about their feelings, and programs designed to help depressed fathers could make a huge impact,” Staub said.

[A version of this story ran on page 4 on 4/18/2014 under the headline "Study: Depression following fatherhood found in young men"]

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