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About one in 10 fathers experience prenatal or postpartum depression, with those at greatest risk if their partner also is depressed, new research has found.

Dads had the highest rates of depression in the three to six months after a baby was born -- 26 percent. Consider that in the general population, just 5 percent of men are considered depressed at any given time. Dads had the lowest rate -- about 8 percent -- in the immediate postpartum period, just before three months, according to the study  appearing today in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

While clinicians and researchers talk a lot about the very serious effects depression can have on women and their families while they're carrying a baby and in the postpartum period, there's little understanding on the impact of fathers who struggle with depression, the report explains.

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Even less is understood about why fathers struggle with depression after the birth of a child. Researchers think the reasons are similar to why mothers get depressed -- financial stress and sleep deprivation among others, this NPR piece explains. But there may be other issues particular to dads, just as mothers have their own concerns, including hormonal changes.

Researchers did an analysis of some 43 studies involving 28,000 participants to take a closer look at the phenomenon. The findings indicate a "significant public health concern" that a lot of doctors may be overlooking, researchers said.

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Further, depression can affect the entire family and the fact that fathers were likely to be depressed when mothers were, points to the need for screening both moms and dads for the blues, the study states.

The authors write:

The observation that expecting and new fathers disproportionately experience depression suggests that more efforts should be made to improve screening and referral, particularly in light of the mounting evidence that early paternal depression may have substantial emotional, behavioral, and developmental effects on children. The correlation between paternal and maternal depression also suggests a screening rubric—depression in one parent should prompt clinical attention to the other. Likewise, prevention and intervention efforts for depression in parents might be focused on the couple and family rather than the individual.

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