When mothers have postnatal depression, provide mental health support to fathers and relationship support to families (China)

postnatal depression

A study in China found statistical links between postnatal depression (PND) in fathers and PND in mothers. They also found that marital satisfaction on the part of fathers is linked to PND in fathers, and that the father’s marital satisfaction is in turn linked to the mother’s marital satisfaction. Her marital satisfaction is linked to her relationship with her mother-in-law (a central feature of family life in China) and to her own mental health.

The researchers represented the statistical links they found in the following figure.

Duan figure - postnatal depression

The researchers made two recommendations on the basis of these findings:

  • Screen new mothers for PND and marital satisfaction, and if problems are detected, screen the fathers too for both PND and marital satisfaction.
  • Support should include the whole family so that the mother / mother-in-law relationship can be supported.

The research looked at 950 couples from both urban and rural areas. 53% of the fathers were between 31 and 35 years old. In 4.4% of the couples, both the wife and husband showed depressive symptoms.

Previous research shows that paternal PND has a negative impact on child development. The rate of PND ranges from 5.4% to 13.6% in different studies, depending on the scales used to measure mental health. Earlier research has identified maternal PND, marital dissatisfaction and low social support as risk factors for paternal PND.


Duan Z et al (2020), Postpartum depression in mothers and fathers: A structural equation model, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 20

Header photo: kattebelletje. Creative Commons.