Depression in Fathers During Pregnancy and After Childbirth

Posted on:November 28, 2017
Last Updated: October 13, 2020
Time to read: 4 minutes

Depression has a lower prevalence in men than in women although this lower incidence may be due to the gender biases in seeking help.

“Only relatively recently has the influence of fathers on children been recognized as vital for adaptive psychosocial and cognitive development.

Given that paternal depression can have direct or indirect effects on children, it is important to recognize and treat symptoms among fathers early, and the first step in doing that is arguably increasing awareness among fathers about increased risks.” – Underwood et al., 2017

Studies show that approximately 9% of men in the general population have depression. [1]

During pregnancy, rates differ between 2-19% for antenatal paternal depression and 12-19% for women. The rates of postnatal paternal depression range between 3-12% compared to 13-18% for women. [2]

We have previously covered the impact of maternal stress on child development.

While perinatal depression in women is associated with hormonal fluctuations and psychosocial factors, paternal depression is associated with a wide range of biological and psychosocial factors that have an impact on brain structure and function. Negative child outcomes such as emotional or behavioural issues play a significant part. [2]

In a large contemporary longitudinal study in New Zealand of approximately 7,000 children, researchers are studying what risk factors have an impact on a child’s wellbeing. To this end, a recently published study in JAMA Psychiatry analysed the risk of depression and the risk factors associated with depression in the father antenatally and postnatally. [2]