Depression, anxiety common among dads

One in five dads say they’ve suffered depression or anxiety symptoms since having kids, a survey shows.

And nearly one in 10 reported feeling that they’ve experienced postnatal depression.

Some 2600 parents – including more than 1000 fathers – took part in the survey conducted by the Parenting Research Centre.

The survey found levels of anxiety and depression were about equal.

Of the dads surveyed, 18 per cent reported depression and 19 per cent reported anxiety since becoming fathers.


The survey found that fathers with poorer mental health:

– Were less likely to feel effective as parents

– Were more likely to feel they were too critical of their children and had less patience

– Were more likely to wish they spent more time with their children

– Felt they were less consistent in their parenting

– Were less confident in helping their children at school


Parenting Research Centre Principal Research Specialist Dr Catherine Wade said research showed the way a child grew and developed was powerfully affected by their parents’ mental health.

“When fathers experience mental illness, their children are at higher risk of behavioural and emotional difficulties,” she explained.

The findings also show that even though men were more likely than women to be positive about the amount of support they received from partners, fewer dads felt there was someone they trusted who they could turn to when having problems.

Dads were also less likely to seek out parenting programs and formal support.

“Our research highlights that we need to routinely address fathers’ – as well as mothers’ mental health when designing and delivering services for parents – particularly new parents,” Dr Wade said.

“We also need to work on ways to better engage dads both in parenting support services and in early education and schools.”


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