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New Parents Have High Risk Of Developing Anxiety

Update Date: Oct 28, 2013 07:01 PM EDT

Anxiety and adjustment disorders are prevalent in new parents and they are more common than post-natal depression according to a new study.

"Most people think of post-natal depression as the main issue for new parents, but we found depression is not nearly as prevalent as anxiety," Dr Wynter from the Jean Hailes Research Unit at Monash University, said in a news release.

According to the study, around a third of first-time mothers experience anxiety after the birth of their baby and 17 percent of first-time fathers also feel that anxiety.

For the study, researchers gathered 172 couples from different socio-economic status. Researchers interviewed the women and men from each couple at separate time after the baby was four weeks old and six-months-old. 

"A baby doesn't come with a manual to help new parents manage and parents may feel less confident about caring for a baby than about managing tasks at work," said Dr Wynter. "One might expect some adjustment issues and anxiety - but around a third of women and almost a fifth of men in the study reported that they were experiencing enough anxiety symptoms to interfere with their daily life." 

He added, "We were surprised to find that much anxiety."

Dr. Wynter said it was important for health professionals to become aware that anxiety may increase with the birth of a couple's first child.

"We don't know how many of these cases of adjustment disorders with anxiety or depression symptoms would progress to clinical diagnoses of anxiety or depression if left unmanaged," he said. "I think we can safely say that at least some of them would, which is not good for mum, dad or baby."

The findings are published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

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