On average, 1 in 8 women experience depression before, during and after pregnancy, the Centers for Disease Control reports.

What may be surprising to some is that dads suffering from depression should also be considered a legitimate health issue, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Psychiatry. Identifying and treating the symptoms for both mothers and fathers can limit the impact on their children, according to the study.

Dads face some common risk factors for postpartum depression, including sleep quality changes, and changes to a marriage related to finances and time devoted to one another.

The study, which included over 3,500 men living in New Zealand, found that fathers who were stressed or were in poor health showed more symptoms of depression before their baby was born. A higher level of depression symptoms were found in fathers after their child was born. These included men who were no longer in a relationship with the mother, were in poor to fair health at nine months, had a history of depression or were unemployed after nine months.

Researchers concluded that while there is a good deal of information related to mothers and depression, raising awareness about dads who are at a higher risk of depression is the first place to start.

However, stereotypes surrounding depression as a mental health issue may also pose a problem for fathers who need help coping with depression. A similar study of men in the United Kingdom released in January stated that fathers don’t always think heightened psychological distress during pregnancy is a legitimate concern.

Key to the conversation about postpartum depression is the understanding that depression is a brain illness. Much like how diabetes impacts a certain area of the body, so does depression. Being strong enough to ask for help can make all the difference for dads and those around them.

The question then becomes how to provide an effective method of gauging a man’s level of depression before and after baby’s birth. Mental health care providers suggest making depression a topic of conversation for moms-to-be and dads-to-be during every office visit leading up to the birth of their child.

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North Carolina residents who are in emotional distress — or would like guidance on helping someone they know who is struggling with depression, anxiety, alcohol or drug use — can call a free 24-hour helpline at 800-718-3550 to speak with a counselor. The service, provided by Novant Health, connects callers with a master's level therapist who can offer immediate guidance and help determine possible next steps, which could include a further assessment or connection to community resources for those in need.