New fathers with antidepressant history 30 times more likely to take them again

Social deprivation is a key factor in new fathers being prescribed antidepressants


New fathers are over 30 times more likely to take antidepressants in the first year after having a child, if they have a recent history of the treatment, according to a new research.

Showing the complex relationship between depression and fatherhood, the findings reveal that a history of antidepressant use was a key determinant in its use in the year after child-birth, the research from University College London, UK.

"This may be because the men are continuing treatment they were on before having a child, or these men may be more susceptible to having feelings of depression again and the challenges of having a new child may exacerbate this," said lead author Holly Smith.

The research included 90,736 men who had had a child in the previous year and 453,632 men who did not have a child from the IQVIA Medical Research Database (used in Population based research), from January 2007 to December 2016.

The team then examined how many men in each category had received an antidepressant prescription.

Social deprivation is a key factor in new fathers being prescribed antidepressants, the research published in the journal JAMA Network Open found.

Fathers who lived in the most deprived areas had an 18 per cent higher risk of receiving an antidepressant prescription compared with fathers living in the least deprived areas, the study found.

Previous research has suggested men to be at a higher risk of depression following child-birth, with a likelihood of about 1 in 10.

Antidepressants are one of the most common treatments for depression, yet there is little information on how many fathers are prescribed treatment in the year after having a child, and how this compares to men who haven't recently had a child, the study said.

"After the birth of a child, attention is normally focused on the health of the mother and baby. However, we need to ensure that new dads get the care they need too by improving research on new fathers and how to engage with them about their mental health," said Smith.

The researchers said that they focused on men prescribed antidepressants, rather than those displaying symptoms of or being diagnosed with depression, which could be a study limitation.