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Posts Tagged ‘marmoset monkeys’

According to a recent New York Times article (12/8, D6 http://tinyurl.com/depressed-dads) up to 80 percent of women experience minor sadness after giving birth, and about 10 percent plummet into severe postpartum depression.  But it turns out that men can also have postpartum depression.  4 percent of fathers have clinically significant depressive symptoms within eight weeks of the birth of their children.  A 2006 study on marmoset monkeys, published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, reported that new fathers experienced a rapid increase in receptors for the hormone vasopressin in the brain’s prefrontal cortex. Along with other hormones, vasopressin is involved in parental behavior in animals, and it is known that the same brain area in humans is activated when parents are shown pictures of their children.  There is also some evidence that testosterone levels tend to drop in men during their partner’s pregnancy, perhaps to make expectant fathers less aggressive and more likely to bond with their newborns.  Given the known association between depression and low testosterone in middle-aged men, it is possible that this might also put some men at risk of postpartum depression.  By far the strongest predictor of paternal postpartum depression is having a depressed partner.  In one study, fathers whose partners were also depressed were at nearly two and a half times the normal risk for depression.

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