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Keywords:

  • paternal postpartum depression;
  • prevalence;
  • family health;
  • couples;
  • fathers;
  • maternal postpartum depression;
  • nursing;
  • midwifery;
  • review

Background.  Much attention has been paid to the problem of postpartum depression in women. However, there is some indication that men also experience depression after the birth of a child, and that paternal depression is linked to maternal depression.

Aims.  The purpose of this integrative review was to examine current knowledge about postpartum depression in fathers. Specific aims were (1) to examine the incidence of paternal depression in the first year after the birth of a child, (2) to identify the characteristics and predictors of paternal postpartum depression, (3) to describe the relationship between maternal and paternal postpartum depression, and (4) to discuss the influence of paternal depression on the family and infant.

Methods.  A literature search from 1980 to 2002 was carried out using the CINAHL, PsychInfo, and Medline electronic databases. Twenty research studies were identified that included incidence rates of paternal depression during the first year postpartum. These were further examined and synthesized regarding onset, severity, duration, and predictors of paternal depressive symptoms, and for information about the relationship between maternal and paternal depression.

Findings.  During the first postpartum year, the incidence of paternal depression ranged from 1·2% to 25·5% in community samples, and from 24% to 50% among men whose partners were experiencing postpartum depression. Maternal depression was identified as the strongest predictor of paternal depression during the postpartum period. The implications of parental depression for family health were discussed.

Conclusions.  Postpartum depression in men is a significant problem. The strong correlation of paternal postpartum depression with maternal postpartum depression has important implications for family health and well-being. Consideration of postpartum depression in fathers as well as mothers, and consideration of co-occurrence of depression in couples, is an important next step in research and practice involving childbearing families.