Massage therapy and other touch therapies have been shown to alleviate depression and improve sleep in pregnant women and postpartum women.

Now research shows soon-to-be and new dads can become depressed as well.

According to a meta-analysis from James F. Paulson, Ph.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at Eastern Virginia Medical School, fathers in substantial numbers experience prenatal and postpartum depression.

Paulson’s analysis shows about 10 percent of fathers experience prenatal or postpartum depression. The first three months postpartum show the lowest rates of depression (7.7 percent), while the three- to six-month postpartum period shows the highest rate (25.6 percent), according to a press release posted to the website of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Research also shows a moderate correlation between depression in fathers and mothers, and fathers in the United States have higher rates of depression, 14.1 percent vs. 8.2 percent worldwide.

“Future research in this area should focus on parents together to examine the onset and joint course of depression in new parents, ” Paulson writes. “This may increase our capacity for early identification of paternal depression, add leverage for prevention and treatment, and increase the understanding of how paternal depression conveys risk to infants and young children.”

The research was published in the May 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association’s theme issue on mental health.

Related articles:
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Research Exclusive: Aromatherapy Massage Eases Depressive Symptoms

Massage Therapy Benefits Depressed Pregnant Women and Newborns

Reflexology Improves Sleep for Postpartum Women

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