Paternal Depression: An Examination of Its Links with Father, Child and Family Functioning in the Postnatal Period

Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom.
Depression and Anxiety (Impact Factor: 4.41). 06/2011; 28(6):471-7. DOI: 10.1002/da.20814
Source: PubMed


Maternal depression is common and is known to affect both maternal and child health. One of the mechanisms by which maternal depression exerts its effects on child health is through an increased rate of parental disharmony. Fathers also experience depression, but the impact of this on family functioning has been less studied. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between paternal depressive disorder and family and child functioning, in the first 3 months of a child's life.
A controlled study comparing individual and familial outcomes in fathers with (n = 54) and without diagnosed depressive disorder (n = 99). Parental couple functioning and child temperament were assessed by both paternal and maternal report.
Depression in fathers is associated with an increased risk of disharmony in partner relationships, reported by both fathers and their partners, controlling for maternal depression. Few differences in infant's reported temperament were found in the early postnatal period.
These findings emphasize the importance of considering the potential for men, as well as women, to experience depression in the postnatal period. Paternal symptoms hold the potential to impact upon fathers, their partners, and their children.

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    • "It is known that exposure to parental depression or anxiety disorders heightens children's vulnerability to internalizing symptoms and disorders (Bijl et al., 2002; Lieb et al., 2002) and that particularly mothers' depression and anxiety are a risk factor for adolescents' depression or anxiety (Singh et al., 2011). The contribution of fathers' psychopathology has received increasing attention over the last years and seems to be of equal importance when compared to mothers' psychopathology (Connell and Goodman, 2002; Ramchandani et al., 2011). To our knowledge, the potential risk to adolescents when both parents suffer from mental health problems compared to one of the parents has not been extensively studied. "
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    ABSTRACT: Exposure to parental depression and anxiety is known to heighten the risk of internalizing symptoms and disorders in children and adolescents. Ample research has focused on the influence of maternal depression and anxiety, but the contribution of psychopathology in fathers remains unclear. We studied the relationships of perceived maternal and paternal psychopathology with adolescents' depression and anxiety symptoms in a general population sample of 862 adolescent girls (age M = 12.39, SD = 0.79). Assessments included adolescents' self-reports of their own depression and anxiety as well as their reports of maternal and paternal psychopathology. We found that perceived maternal and paternal psychopathology were both related to depression and anxiety symptoms in adolescent girls. A combination of higher maternal and paternal psychopathology was related to even higher levels of depression and anxiety in adolescent girls. Our findings showed that adolescents' perceptions of their parents' psychopathology are significantly related to their own emotional problems.
    Frontiers in Psychology 07/2015; DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00963 · 2.80 Impact Factor
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    • "This postpartum period is critical for fathers to develop an emotional bond with their infants through their intense interactions. Indeed, these early father– infant interactions and emotional bonding become the basis of the fatherinfant attachment, which has a longlasting impact on cognitive functions and social attachment for offspring (Feldman, Bamberger, et al., 2013; Parke, 2002; Ramchandani et al., 2011; van Ijzendoorn & Dewolff, 1997). The findings may thus lead to the identification of specific brain regions of potential importance for early father–infant attachment and mood symptoms. "
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    ABSTRACT: Fathering plays an important role in infants' socioemotional and cognitive development. Previous studies have identified brain regions that are important for parenting behavior in human mothers. However, the neural basis of parenting in human fathers is largely unexplored. In the current longitudinal study, we investigated structural changes in fathers' brains during the first 4 months postpartum using voxel-based morphometry analysis. Biological fathers (n = 16) with full-term, healthy infants were scanned at 2-4 weeks postpartum (time 1) and at 12-16 weeks postpartum (time 2). Fathers exhibited increase in gray matter (GM) volume in several neural regions involved in parental motivation, including the hypothalamus, amygdala, striatum, and lateral prefrontal cortex. On the other hand, fathers exhibited decreases in GM volume in the orbitofrontal cortex, posterior cingulate cortex, and insula. The findings provide evidence for neural plasticity in fathers' brains. We also discuss the distinct patterns of associations among neural changes, postpartum mood symptoms, and parenting behaviors among fathers.
    Social Neuroscience 06/2014; 9(5):1-14. DOI:10.1080/17470919.2014.933713 · 2.66 Impact Factor
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    • "Fathers participated in an initial screening assessment which included a depression questionnaire (the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale – EPDS (Cox, Holden, & Sagovsky, 1987). The initial recruitment process has been described in more detail elsewhere (Ramchandani et al., 2011), but the aim was to recruit a sample weighted towards higher levels of depression. All fathers scoring 10 or above on the EPDS were invited to participate in the main study, along with a random 1 in 4 sample of low-scoring fathers. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Factors related to parents and parenting capacities are important predictors of the development of behavioural problems in children. Recently, there has been an increasing research focus in this field on the earliest years of life, however, relatively few studies have addressed the role of fathers, despite this appearing to be particularly pertinent to child behavioural development. This study aimed to examine whether father–infant interactions at age 3 months independently predicted child behavioural problems at 1 year of age. Method A sample of 192 families was recruited from two maternity units in the United Kingdom. Father–infant interactions were assessed in the family home and coded using the Global Rating Scales. Child behaviour problems were assessed by maternal report. Hierarchical and logistic regression analyses were used to examine associations between father–infant interaction and the development of behavioural problems. Results Disengaged and remote interactions between fathers and their infants were found to predict externalising behavioural problems at the age of 1 year. The children of the most disengaged fathers had an increased risk of developing early externalising behavioural problems [disengaged (nonintrusive) interactions – adjusted Odds Ratio 5.33 (95% Confidence Interval; 1.39, 20.40): remote interactions adj. OR 3.32 (0.92, 12.05)] Conclusions Disengaged interactions of fathers with their infants, as early as the third month of life, predict early behavioural problems in children. These interactions may be critical factors to address, from a very early age in the child’s life, and offer a potential opportunity for preventive intervention.
    Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry 07/2012; 54(1). DOI:10.1111/j.1469-7610.2012.02583.x · 6.46 Impact Factor
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