Failure to Recognize Postnatal Depression in Males

male depression

New research recently conducted showed that people tend to detect postnatal depression in females twice as fast as they would in males. The study, led by Professor Viren Swami of Anglia Ruskin University, involved 406 British adults aged between 18 and 70.

Postnatal depression, a mental health issue which affects as many as 13% of new parents is found to be most common amongst females, but this research proved otherwise. Those participants were presented with case studies of a man and a woman both displaying symptoms of this form of depression

The recently conducted survey found that participants of both sexes were less likely to say that there was something wrong with the male (76%) compared to the female (97%).

Participants who were able to identify a problem found that postnatal depression was dominant in the female case study as compared to the male counterpart. This study found that 90% of participants correctly described the female case study as suffering from postnatal depression, but only 46% said the male had postpartum depression.

The common belief among these participants is that man was suffering from stress or tiredness. The participants found stress to be a cause 21% of the time for the man compared to only 0.5% for the woman, despite identical symptoms.

In the overall study, it was found that attitudes were significantly more negative towards the male case study compared to the female. Also, participants reported lower perceived distress towards the male case study’s condition, believed that the male’s issue would be easier to treat, expressed less sympathy for the male and were less likely to suggest that the male seek help.

The head supervisor  Viren Swami, Professor of Social Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University, said  on the Monday that: “Our findings suggest that the British masses are significantly more likely to believe that something is ‘wrong’ when seeing a mother displaying the symptoms of postnatal depression, and they are also far more likely to label the condition as postpartum depression correctly.

He said further, “There may be several reasons for this gender difference. There is a possibility that general awareness of paternal postnatal depression remains relatively low and there might be a perception among the British public that postnatal depression is a ‘women’s issue’ due to gender-specific factors such as pregnancy-induced hormonal changes and delivery complications.

He went ahead to say that, “the obvious and the clearer picture painted by this study is the need for learned persons who know about this issues, should endeavour to promote the understanding of postnatal depression in males,  so people don’t brush it off as simply tiredness or stress. It is particularly important as many men who experience symptoms of depression following the birth of their child may not be confident about asking for help and may be missed by healthcare professionals in the regular assessments of new parents.”

This new study should be able to help individuals, health institutions, and mental health technicians and so on, to recognize the threat posed by this ignorance and tackle it with the utmost relevance.