European Fatherhood
HomeKnowledgeBest practiceFutureResourcesWho we are
 

   

Welcome to the website on European Fatherhood.

We present information on men, equality, and fatherhood in Europe.

The content is for professionals working in the area as well as anyone interested in the subject.

 

 
 
 
PsychologicalPsychologicalPolitical/legislativePsychologicalSocialEducationHealthEmploymentResearch

knowledge

Male Postnatal Depression overcoming gender stereotypes

by Tina Juhl

January 17th 2007
last updated January 18th 2007

 

How to Overcome Gender Stereotypes


Information is essential in order to overcome gender stereotypes concerning postnatal depression. This also means spreading the news to make more and more people aware of and familiar with the fact that men may also suffer from postnatal depression.

When discussing fathers and postnatal depression it is always important to underline the fact that helping the father will support the family as a whole. Conversely, it may be said that taking a holistic view of the family right from the beginning – which means from pregnancy onwards– promotes gender equality and makes it much easier to discover fathers in need of special help.

Information may be considered part of useful preventive measures both at a personal and at healthcare level.

What can the father and his partner do themselves to prevent postnatal depression?
Men (and women) who are about to become parents can be advised to reflect on:

- Their personal experiences with care, their own relations to their parents, their own experiences of childhood
- Their imminent parenthood and the division of the new family roles this will engender
- How sharing parenthood will affect their relationship as a couple
- How to share responsibilities and practical tasks

Through reflection and especially through conversation with others they may come to terms with their relationship to their own parents as well as with their past and current life. The minute the baby is born, many parents feel it difficult to make time to talk to each other and tempers run shorter. Hence it is a good idea to be as well prepared as possible for the coming challenges of parenthood. Some favour going through this process of reflection alone, others prefer sharing it with their partner, a family member, a good friend or a psychologist.

Important preventive elements that may be offered by the healthcare system include:

- Directly inviting fathers to pregnancy-related examinations, visits to the GP with the infant etc.
- Offering fathers assistance in preparing for their new role during pregnancy, childbirth and early fatherhood
- Addressing the importance of parent/child-relationships at antenatal classes

Professional help for fathers may mean simply seeing them; talking to them, and listening to them. In conjunction with knowledge of fathers’ possible symptoms this facilitates early assistance, thereby shortening this difficult period for the whole family. Likewise, it is important to integrate knowledge on men and mood disorders into prenatal courses (link to BP1).

Special information and training are useful for helping prepare professionals for this work (see this website Best Practice 2). In Denmark, information leaflets on men and postnatal depression have been sent to all GPs, health visitors and doctors/nurses/midwives at obstetric- and gynaecological-wards (See leaflet).

As mentioned earlier the identification of all kinds of depression among men becoming fathers is especially important since this is a very vulnerable period for most families and children of fathers with postnatal depression have a greater risk of suffering emotional and behavioural difficulties.

In order to develop an assessment that identifies all fathers suffering from depression – including those whose symptoms differ from the traditional symptoms of depression– future research should focus on developing more precise assessments including the male-specific symptoms. One goal should be the development of screening tools for postnatal depression that include both men and women since ‘male symptoms’ occur in women too and many men suffer ‘traditional’ symptoms of depression. Such a tool would be another step towards gender equality when it comes to discovering and helping parents suffering from postnatal depression.

 

References

 

- Ballard, C., Davies, R.: Postnatal Depression in Fathers. In Rev Psychiatry 1996; Vol. 8: pp. 65-71.
- Bartlett, E.E., The Effects of Fatherhood on the Health of Men: a Review of the Literature. Journal of Men’s Health and Gender 2004; Vol. 1, Nos. 2-3, pp.159-169.
- Cochran, S.V., Rabinowitz, F.E. (2000): Men and Depression: Clinical and Empirical Perspectives. San Diego, California: Academic Press.
- Condon, J.T., Boyce, P., Corkindale, C.J.:The First-Time Fathers Study: a Prospective Study of the Mental Health and Wellbeing of Men During the Transition to Parenthood. Aust N Z J Psychiatry 2004; 38: pp. 56-64.
- Cox, J., Holden, J. (2003): Perinatal Mental Health: A Guide to the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. London: Gaskell.
- Cox, J., Connor, Y., Kendell, R.E.: Prospective Study of the Psychiatric Disorders of Childbirth. Br J Psychiatry 1982; 140: pp. 111-117.
- Deater-Deckard, K., Pickering, K., Dunn, J.F., Golding, J.: Family Structure and Depressive Symptoms in Men Preceding and Following the Birth of a Child. Am J Psychiatry 1998; Vol. 155 (6): pp. 818-23.
- Evans, J. et al: Cohort Study of Depressed Mood during Pregnancy and after Childbirth. BMJ 2001; 323: pp. 257-260.
- Goodman, J.H.: Correlates of Postnatal Depression in Mothers and Fathers. J Adv Nurs 2004; Vol 45 (1): pp. 26-35.
- Kitamura, T., Shima, S., Sugawara, M., Toda, M.A.: Clinical and Psychosocial Correlates of Antenatal Depression: a review. Psychother Psychosom 1996; Vol 65(3): pp. 117-23.
- Levant, R.F., Pollack, W.S. (eds.) (1995): A New Psychology of Men. New York: Basic Books.

- Madsen, S.Aa. & Juhl, T. (2007). Paternal depression in the postnatal period assessed with traditional and male depression scales. Int Journ Men’s Health & Gender 2007. Vol 4 Issue I, March, 26-31.


- Madsen, S. A., Lind, D., Munck, H. (2002): Fædres tilknytning til spædbørn. Hans Reitzels Forlag.
- Matthey, S., Barnett, B., Kavanagh, D.J., Howie, P.: Validation of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale for Men, and Comparison of Item Endorsement with their Partners. J Affect Disord 2001; Vol 64 (2): pp. 175-184.
- Norman, J.: Gender Bias in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Depression. Int J Ment Health 2004; Vol 39: pp. 126-132.
- Paulson, J., Dauber, S:, Leifermann, J.A. (2006): Individual and Combined Effects of Postpartum Depression in Mothers andFathers on Parenting Behavior. Pediatrics 2006; 118: pp. 659-668.
- Olsen, L., Mortensen, E., Bech, P. (2004): Prevalence of major depression and stress indicators in the Danish general population. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica: 109: pp. 96–103.
- Piccinelli, M: Wilkinson, G.: Gender Differences in Depression. Critical review. Br J Psychiatry 2000; Vol 111: pp. 486-492.
- Ramchandani, P. et al: Parental Depression in the Postnatal Period and Child Development: a Prospective Population Study. The Lancet 2005; 365, pp. 2201-2205.
- Rutz, W. et al: Prevention of male suicides: lessons from Gotland study. Lancet 1995. 345: p. 524.
- Walinder, J:, Rutz, W.: Male depression and suicide. Int Clin Psychopharmacol 2001; Vol 1, Supplement 2: pp. 21-24.
- Winkler, D., Pjrek, E., Heiden, A.: Gender Differences in the Psychopathology of Depressed Inpatients. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 2004; Vol 254, No 4: pp. 209-214.
- Winkler, D., Pjrek, E., Kasper, S.: Anger Attacks in Depression - Evidence for a Male Depressive Syndrome. Psychother Psychosom 2005; 74: pp. 303–307.
- Winkler, D., Pjrek, E., Kasper, S.: Gender-specific symptoms of depression and anger attacks. Journal of men’s health and gender 2006; Vol. 3 (1): pp.19-24.
- Zierau F, Bille A, Rutz W, Bech P.: The Gotland Male Depression Scale: a Validity Study in Patients with Alcohol Abuse Disorder. Nord, J., Psychiatry. 2002; 56(4): pp. 265-71.


 

 
 
 
 

 

With support from the European Community - Programme relating to the Community Framework Strategy on Gender Equality (2001-2006).The information contained in this website does not necessarily reflect the position or opinion of the European Commission.