Abstract

BACKGROUND We compare and contrast some correlates of paternal and maternal depression after the live birth of a first child, as part of a longitudinal study.

METHOD Fifty-four first-time mothers attending obstetric services in Oporto, Portugal, and 42 of their husbands or partners participated in a longitudinal study of their mental health. All subjects were given a semi-structured clinical interview (SADS) at six months antenatally and at 12 months postnatally and sub-samples were interviewed at three months postnatally. At all these times all the mothers and fathers also completed a translated version of a self-rating scale for depression, the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) and a series of other questionnaires and interviews to measure different psychosocial variables. Profiles of risk factors associated with depression in the first postnatal year were analysed by means of logistic regressions.

RESULTS In the mothers, aside from a history of depression, the only other powerful predictor of postnatal depression was the mean objective negative impact score of life events. 'Postnatal' depression in fathers was associated with a history of depression in themselves and with the presence of depression in their wives or partners during pregnancy and soon after delivery.

CONCLUSION Prevention and early treatment of depression in fathers may benefit not only themselves but also their spouses and their children.