NEW fathers are screening positive for depression almost as often as new mums, according to new research.

A small US study of community health clinics in Indiana analysed parent responses from more than 9,500 clinic visits and found 4.4 per cent of fathers were suffering depression, compared with five per cent of mothers.

Peri-natal Anxiety & Depression Australia CEO Terri Smith welcomed the research and said it helped contribute to a discussion around how to best identify postnatal depression in both mums and dads and how to support any new parent who is struggling

“We’ve known for some time that both depression and anxiety are more common for new dads than many people realise,” Ms Smith said.

“Most people are still surprised to learn how common it is for new dads to experience depression, or anxiety, and that it can affect men from all walks of life and all cultures.”

The results suggests paediatric clinics were a good place to address depression in a family, the researchers said.

Ms Smith agreed saying it was important for any health professional who comes into contact with new parents to be aware of the signs and symptoms of postnatal depression or anxiety and to know what to do if they identify that someone is struggling.

The paper, published in medical journal JAMA today, said addressing gaps in the knowledge of frontline health staff could improve detection and treatment rates of postnatal depression in parents, ensuring the best possible outcomes for children.

The key to recovery was getting help early, Ms Smith said.

“That might be talking to your partner, child and family health nurse, GP or PANDA’s National Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Helpline,” she said.