There is an abundance of support for new mothers with post-natal depression, but one in ten fathers is also affected by the disorder. Should men receive the same help?
A court heard yesterday that Mark Bruton-Young trawled the internet for information on how to kill a baby before suffocating his six-month old daughter in her cot in June 2009. The 36-year-old architect believed he was suffering from a male form of post-natal depression, which prevented him from bonding with baby Harriet.
The pregnancy was unplanned, despite the couple being married professionals in their 30s and he resented her intrusion into his married life.
A few months after the birth, Mr Bruton-Young made a stream of Google searches including ‘coming to terms with fatherhood’ and ‘I thought I wanted kids but now I don’t know’.
In the four days before Harriets death, prosecutor Paul Dunkels says: ‘The defendant’s searches began to concentrate on suffocation and the signs that might be left behind if a baby was suffocated.’ Search terms included ‘signs of deliberate suffocation’ and ‘father convicted of suffocation’.
The case has thrown up questions surrounding post-natal anxiety and depression among men, and whether there should be more support available for new dads.
Research shows that, although men do not suffer the same hormonal changes that trigger post-natal depression in women, the condition can be brought on by tiredness and stress. Last year, a US study said that although most men will never be aware that they have the condition, many succumb to a form of depression or anxiety within three to six months of becoming a dad.
Yesterday, Mr Bruton-Young of Kingsway, Gloucestershire, was supported by his wife Clare at the start of his murder trial in which he denies smothering his daughter. The trial is expected to last three weeks.
Should male post-natal depression be recognised as a disorder? Are men as vulnerable to the impact of a baby as a new mother? Marie Claire wants to hear from you by posting a comment below.
For more information on post-natal depression in men visit www.babyworld.co.uk
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