High levels of paternal depression found in northwestern China

paternal depression china

A study of 180 couples in Xi’an city in northwestern China has found high levels of depressive symptoms among fathers: 21% 3 days after the birth, 20% after two weeks and 14% after six weeks.

Both parents were interviewed three times (3 days, 2 weeks, 6 weeks after the birth) and asked to complete surveys assessing mood, feeling of effectiveness as a parent and satisfaction with the marital relationship.

Fathers reporting higher depressive symptoms were more likely to:

  • report low feelings of competence in caring for the baby (which is related to reporting the baby is “easy”)
  • report low satisfaction with the relationship with the mother
  • be married to a mother reporting her own worse depressive symptoms
  • be from an urban background
  • have a higher education
  • have the baby by a Caesarean birth
  • have a boy rather than a girl
  • have a partial understanding of babycare (neither very well-informed nor completely uninformed).

The mean age of the fathers was 29 years old. 92% were employed, 72% were from urban areas, 64% had a college education.

The authors speculate whether China’s one-childbirth policy increases the pressure that mothers and fathers feel.


ZhangY-P, Zhang L-L, Wei H-H, Zhang Yao, Zhang C-L & Porr C (2016), Post partum depression and the psychosocial predictors in first-time fathers from northwestern China, Midwifery 35

Photo: John X. Creative Commons.