Fear among men who transition to parenthood is higher than reported
New research suggests that anxiety in men who transition into parenthood is significantly higher than the regional prevalence rate reported by the Global World Health Organization (WHO).
In a new study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology, researchers from the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus examined the prevalence of anxiety in fathers during the perinatal period, including pregnancy through the first year of pregnancy Year after birth.
The transition to parenting is a major life event that is often accompanied by new challenges related to financial, relationship, and work-life balance issues. Despite these changes, which are occurring in both men and women, not much is known about the prevalence of anxiety in new fathers. To the best of our knowledge, our study is the first meta-analysis to examine the prevalence rates of anxiety in fathers and mothers during the perinatal period. “
Jenn Leiferman, PhD, professor at the Colorado School of Public Health
The researchers reviewed eligible studies with more than 40,000 participants published between 1995 and 2020. The researchers found that the overall estimate of anxiety in men during the perinatal period was nearly 11 percent, with rates lower during pregnancy (9.9 percent) than in the first year after birth (11.7 percent).
These rates are significantly higher than the WHO global regional prevalence rates for anxiety in men between 2.2 and 3.8 percent, suggesting that transition to parenthood may increase the risk of anxiety in men.
Regarding maternal anxiety, the researchers found that an estimated 17.6 percent of women experience it during the perinatal period. This is also significantly higher than the WHO global regional preferences for anxiety in women, but corresponds to estimates for anxiety in mothers from other meta-analyzes.
“The prevalence of anxiety and depression in men is less discussed as a society, although research shows men are more likely to commit suicide or abuse alcohol than women. It is important that we be more transparent about men’s mental health problems. Our hope is by creating awareness, we can help people get help sooner when needed, “said Leiferman.
The researchers suggest that many men feel anxious during the transition into parenthood, starting in the first trimester of the first year after giving birth. With this in mind, adequate support for new fathers and early identification and treatment efforts for paternal anxiety are needed.
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
JA Leiferman et al. (2021) Anxiety Among Fathers During the Prenatal and Postpartum Period: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology. doi.org/10.1080/0167482X.2021.1885025.