Perinatal depression and the impact on the father: a review of the literature

Document Type


Publication details

Van Vorst, S 2015, 'Perinatal depression and the impact on the father: a review of the literature', International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, vol. 24, suppl. 1, pp. 45-46.

Published abstract available from:


Peer Reviewed



Perinatal depression (PND) is a relatively recent term that has previously been known as postpartum depression and peripartum depression. PND has been widely researched from the context of the experience of the mother and the impact on the mother–infant relationship. In recent years, there has been much debate about, but little research on, the experience of the father in this period. However, a number of questions have been posed and explored in the literature regarding paternal issues in the perinatal period. These include how biological first-time fathers living with their pregnant partner adjust to the idea of having a baby, the pregnancy itself, and to the impact of having an infant in the relationship. Limited research has explored the impact of maternal perinatal depression on the father. It is timely, in these times of increasing role changes for fathers, and in light of this recent evidence, that research about the impact on the father, of maternal perinatal depression, is further explored. This paper highlights the serious issues that face new fathers whose partners have been diagnosed with depression in the perinatal period, including the lack of appropriate education and practical support for the father, the impact on the mental state of the father, and the long-term effects on the children of mothers, and fathers, with perinatal depression. No study to date has explored what fathers find helpful in supporting their partner with perinatal depression. While the issues that influence and inform this topic are complex, this presentation will highlight the key topics that have delivered well-defined guidance to a large qualitative study.

Additional information

Paper presented at The 41st Australian College of Mental Health Nurses' International Mental Health Nursing Conference, Brisbane, QLD, 7-9 October.