Paternal postpartum depression: how can nurses begin to help?

Contemp Nurse. Feb-Mar 2010;34(2):199-210. doi: 10.5172/conu.2010.34.2.199.


Men's emotional health can be overlooked during their partner's pregnancy and throughout the first postpartum year. Postpartum depression, once expected only in new mothers, is now estimated to occur in 4-25% of new fathers as well. The incidence of paternal postpartum depression is greater in couples where maternal postpartum depression is also present. Paternal postpartum depression can be difficult to assess. New fathers may seem more angry and anxious than sad. And yet, depression is present. When left untreated, paternal postpartum depression limits men's capacity to provide emotional support to their partners and children. This article reviews the incidence and prevalence of paternal postpartum depression, comments on tools to measure the disorder, identifies paternal behaviors that may indicate depression, examines the effects of parental depression on families and discusses what nurses can do to begin to help.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Attitude to Health
  • Depression, Postpartum* / diagnosis
  • Depression, Postpartum* / epidemiology
  • Depression, Postpartum* / psychology
  • Depression, Postpartum* / therapy
  • Family Health
  • Fathers / education
  • Fathers / psychology*
  • Fathers / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Nurse's Role*
  • Nursing Assessment
  • Paternal Behavior
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Prevalence
  • Psychiatric Nursing
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Social Support