New fathers are just as likely to suffer from postnatal depression as mothers, according to a recent Australian study.
Research published in the journal of Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology indicates that the first 12 months of a newborn's life can affect the mental health of both parents equally.
According to study co-author Jan Nicholson from Melbourne's Parenting Research Centre, there is a 40 per cent increase in the risk of developing postnatal depression for fathers under the age of 30.
"This study shows … men are vulnerable too, because they are also lacking in sleep and juggling roles and responsibilities," Professor Nicholson told the ABC yesterday (April 26).
"We need to be detecting at-risk fathers early and responding early, because we know [mental health issues] are harder to treat if they are prolonged."
Most private health insurance policies also offer a range of support to those suffering from mental illness – including postnatal depression – such as rebates on psychological services.
Data from the Black Dog Institute suggests that postnatal depression affects almost 16 per cent of first-time mothers in Australia.