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.
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    • "In general, the mechanisms through which depression influences child outcomes are related to the interference of optimal parent-child interactions and with maternalrole functioning (Berkule et al., 2014; Logsdon et al., 2006; NICHD Early Child Care Research Network, 1999). Most of the research to date focuses on maternal depression, but the mental health of fathers also has been reported to be a risk factor for adverse child outcomes (Fletcher, Feeman, Garfield, & Vimpani, 2011; Ramchandani et al., 2011; Ramchandani, Stein, Evans, O'Connor, & ALSPAC Study Team, 2005). More data are needed to identify specific parenting behaviors that may be influenced by parental depression in order to target preventive interventions that support positive parenting in the face of parental depression. "
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    ABSTRACT: Parental depression has been associated with adverse child outcomes. However, the specific parenting behaviors that may result in such child outcomes and the effect of family-centered care (FCC) on positive parenting behavior of depressed parents has not previously been examined. Data from the National Survey of Early Childhood Health was used (n = 2,068). Groups were stratified by the presence of parental depression and compared with regard to demographics and the mean number of specific positive parenting behaviors. Generalized linear models were developed based on testing whether individuals performed more or less than the median number of positive behaviors. Lastly, we tested whether depression independently predicted each outcome after adjustment for FCC, coping, social support, and ethnicity to evaluate if depression independently predicted each outcome after adjustment. No difference was found in demographic variables between parents who were depressed and not depressed. Parents who were not depressed performed significantly more routines (p = .036); reported coping better with parenting (p < .001); performed significantly less punitive behaviors (p = .022); and needed/had less social support (p = .002) compared with parents who were depressed. Individual items and scale scores were associated in the expected directions. FCC was independently associated with study variables but did not moderate the effect of depression. These data identify specific parenting behaviors that differ between parents who report depressive symptoms compared with parents who do not have depressive symptoms. More targeted interventions coordinated through a medical home are needed for parents with depressive symptoms to reduce the child health disparities often associated with parental depression. Copyright © 2015 National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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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.
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