Fathers Get Perinatal Depression Too
Although paternal depression is a relatively unrecognised illness, fathers are at risk of high depression scores both during their partner’s pregnancy and after the birth. This is an emerging area of research, so the first aim of this thesis was to examine the prevalence rate of paternal depression in the perinatal period. The second aim sought to identify any relationship between high maternal rates of depression and fathers’ depression scores. The third aim was to explore the effects of paternal depression on fathers’ parenting, perception of infant sleep as a problem, quantity of father-child active play, fathers’ stress levels and fathers’ sleep. This thesis used the information collated from 139 fathers in the control group of the Prevention of Overweight in Infancy study (POI), a longitudinal study following parents from pregnancy. The information collected was through self-reporting using standardised questionnaires about the fathers’ physical and mental well-being and their parenting between the third trimester of their partners’ pregnancy and 53 weeks after the birth. A repeated measure ANOVA was carried out to compare paternal Edinburgh depression scores between pregnancy, 19 weeks and 53 weeks after birth. Correlations were carried out to examine any relation between maternal and paternal depression scores. Descriptive statistics were produced for all continuous variables, and the correlations between these variables and fathers depression were calculated. The main analysis used was a hierarchical multiple regression analysis to identify variables that uniquely predicted paternal depression at 1 year. Fathers’ depression scores were stable across all three time points. When mothers had high depression scores, fathers were more likely to have high rates of depression across time. The main finding revealed that poor quality sleep at 27 weeks after birth was a significant predictor of fathers’ depression scores at 53 weeks. Regular screening of fathers and mothers for depression and sleep quality during pregnancy and throughout the first year may provide an avenue for intervention and support.
Advisor: Reese, Elaine; Taylor, Barry; Lawrence, Julie
Degree Name: Master of Science
Degree Discipline: Psychology
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Fathers depression; Paternal Perinatal Depression; Parental Depression; Child development and Paternal depression; Sleep and Paternal depression; Paternal depression and Pregnancy
Research Type: Thesis