Anxiety among men transitioning into parenthood is significantly higher than reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) regional prevalence rates, a new study suggests.

The findings indicated that the overall estimate of anxiety among men during the perinatal period was nearly 11 per cent, with rates being lower during pregnancy (9.9 per cent) than during the first year postpartum (11.7 per cent).

These rates are considerably higher than the global WHO regional prevalence rates for anxiety among men that range between 2.2 to 3.8 per cent, suggesting the transition into parenthood may increase the risk for anxiety in men.

“The transition to parenthood is a major life event that’s often accompanied with new challenges related to financial, relationship, and work-life balance concerns,” said researcher Jenn Leiferman from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in the US.

“Despite those changes happening for both men and women, not much is known about the prevalence of anxiety among new fathers,” Leiferman added.

For the study, published in The Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics & Gynecology, the team reviewed eligible studies representing more than 40,000 participants that have been published between 1995-2020.

In terms of anxiety among mothers, the researchers found an estimated 17.6 per cent of women experience it during the perinatal period.

This is also substantially higher than global WHO regional preferences for anxiety among women, but in line with estimates for maternal anxiety from other meta-analyses, the researchers said.

“The prevalence of anxiety and depression among men is talked about less as a society, even though research shows men are more likely to commit suicide or abuse alcohol than women,” said Leiferman.

“It’s important that we create more transparency around men’s mental health issues. Our hope is by creating awareness, we can help people get help earlier when needed,” Leiferman added.