Inpatient treatment of women with postpartum psychiatric disorders--the role of the male partners

Arch Womens Ment Health. 2005 Sep;8(3):163-70. doi: 10.1007/s00737-005-0087-7. Epub 2005 Jun 17.


Postpartum psychiatric disorders are stressful events for all members of the family. The male partners contribute to the women's coping process. To evaluate the men's supportive function we investigated 31 partners of 34 women with postpartum psychiatric disorders. Three male partners were unreachable although we tried to contact them intensively. All the women examined were in-patients of a mother-child unit after delivery. The men's behaviour in the relationship, in their role as a partner, and as a father were rated in a categorical-qualitative way. We found that nearly one third of the male partners can be described as "supportive". This finding strongly correlates with the subjective experience of the corresponding wives of being supported by the male partners. However in the subgroup of women who had already suffered from prepartum psychiatric disorders with onset before index-delivery, the majority of the male partners were rated and experienced as "non-supportive". Additionally, ten of these men suffered from several DSM-IV/ICD-10 based psychiatric disorders themselves. Using the standardised questionnaire "operationalisierte psychodynamische Diagnostik" (OPD) we describe the higher ego-strength of the supportive male partners. We found that there was a reduction in the length of stay in the hospital in the families with supportive male partners.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Fathers*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Postpartum Period / psychology*
  • Role*
  • Social Support*