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Paternal Postpartum Depression

A new study discovers prenatal or postpartum depression is not limited to mothers.

About 10 percent of fathers experience these forms of depression, with rates being highest in the three- to six-month postpartum period.

James F. Paulson, Ph.D., of the Eastern Virginia Medical School, presented the findings of the study at a JAMA media briefing on mental health.

It is well established that maternal prenatal and postpartum depression is prevalent and has negative personal, family, and child developmental outcomes, but the prevalence, risk factors and effects of depression among new fathers is not well understood, and has received little attention from researchers and clinicians, according to background information in the article.

Dr. Paulson and co-author Sharnail D. Bazemore conducted their meta-analysis to determine estimates and variability in rates of paternal prenatal and postpartum depression and its association with maternal depression.

The authors included studies that documented depression in fathers between the first trimester and the first postpartum year, and identified 43 studies involving 28,004 participants for inclusion in the analysis.

Among the researchers’ findings:

  • The overall estimate of paternal depression was 10.4 percent (estimated 12-month prevalence of depression among men in the general population is 4.8 percent).
  • There was considerable variability between different time periods, with the three- to six-month postpartum period showing the highest rate (25.6 percent) and the first three postpartum months showing the lowest rate (7.7 percent).
  • Differences were observed across study locations, with higher rates of prenatal and postpartum depression reported in the United States (14.1 percent vs. 8.2 percent internationally).
  • There is a moderate correlation between depression in fathers and mothers.

“There are many implications of these findings. The observation that expecting and new fathers disproportionately experience depression suggests that more efforts should be made to improve screening and referral, particularly in light of the mounting evidence that early paternal depression may have substantial emotional, behavioral, and developmental effects on children.

“The correlation between paternal and maternal depression also suggests a screening rubric for depression in one parent should prompt clinical attention to the other. Likewise, prevention and intervention efforts for depression in parents might be focused on the couple and family rather than the individual,” the authors write.

“Future research in this area should focus on parents together to examine the onset and joint course of depression in new parents. This may increase our capacity for early identification of parental depression, add leverage for prevention and treatment, and increase the understanding of how parental depression conveys risk to infants and young children.”

The report is found in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Source: Journal of the American Medical Association

Paternal Postpartum Depression

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Paternal Postpartum Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 29, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 26 May 2010)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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