Depressive symptoms in new first-time fathers: associations with age, sociodemographic characteristics, and antenatal psychological well-being

Birth. 2013 Mar;40(1):32-8. doi: 10.1111/birt.12026.


Background: New fathers may be as vulnerable as new mothers to depression, and their symptoms also can affect the mother and child. The purpose of this study was to investigate depressive symptoms and associations with paternal age, sociodemographic characteristics, and antenatal psychological well-being in Swedish first-time fathers.

Methods: Depressive symptoms, defined as scores of 11 or greater on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, were investigated in 812 men 3 months after their first baby was born. The study sample included primarily Swedish-born, married or cohabiting men who participated in antenatal education classes during the partner's pregnancy.

Results: In all, 10.3 percent of study men suffered from depressive symptoms. Compared with fathers aged 29-33 years (sample mean age ± 2 yr), the younger fathers had an increased risk for depressive symptoms (OR 2.55; 95% CI 1.50-4.35). Low educational level, low income, poor partner relationship quality, and financial worry increased the risk for depressive symptoms, but these factors could not explain the increased risk among the young.

Conclusions: New fathers in their twenties seem to have an increased risk for depressive symptoms that cannot be explained solely by socioeconomic factors. Support should be offered to new fathers with particular focus on the young.

Keywords: depression; depressive symptoms; fathers; paternal age; postpartum.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Educational Status
  • Fathers / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Paternal Age
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Young Adult