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.




Male Postnatal Depression symptoms

by Tina Juhl

January 17th 2007
last updated January 17th 2007

Male Postnatal Depression – symptoms

Men’s symptoms of postnatal depression are very much like those of women. The reactions can vary from severe crisis-reactions over anxiety and depression to thought disorders. But the course of the illness may vary tremendously from person to person.

The traditional symptoms (originally related to women) are:
• Lack of joy
• Lack of interest and energy
• Feelings of self-blame
• Anxiety
• Feeling overwhelmed
• Feeling sad or miserable
• Thoughts of self-harm

These symptoms also apply to men suffering from postnatal depression – and to depression in general. But postnatal depression is different in the sense that the thoughts, feelings, reactions, and symptoms are related to parenthood. They are expressed both in relation to oneself and in relation to the infant.

Despite the fact that many men and women show the same symptoms of postnatal depression, some men show different symptoms. These symptoms may also appear in women, but their frequency is higher in men. These are symptoms, which have previously failed to be accepted as depressive symptoms and research into this topic still has a long way to go. The following symptoms - often referred to as male depressive syndrome or masked depression - are increasingly becoming acknowledged:

• Lowered stress-threshold
• Increase in aggression and outward-reacting behaviour, problems with self-control
• Feeling burnt-out and empty
• Irritability, restlessness and frustration

The above-mentioned Danish study has shown that it appears to be highly relevant to integrate these male depression symptoms into postnatal depression-assessment for fathers. This is due to the fact that some fathers’ depressions will not be observed if these symptoms are neglected. The fact that men’s psychological conditions do affect their children (read more: link to an article from the Lancet) and not least concern for the father/infant relationship makes it clear that every father suffering from mood disorders in this vulnerable period should be found and offered help.

Following the Danish study the media focused on fathers and mood disorders. This led to a greater awareness of the possibility that men may display different symptoms to women and made it possible for people, either by themselves or through a professional, to realize that they might be in need of help:

A couple whose baby was in the 33rd week of gestation asked to see a psychologist because of the father’s reactions: He was afraid of developing postnatal depression. He was experiencing feelings of aggression and was over-working and feeling irritable. They came for two sessions before and one after the birth of their child. Talking about their expectations, fears and ideas of becoming parents in combination with receiving practical advice related to their everyday life improved the father’s condition. After the birth the parents no longer feared postnatal depression.

Besides demonstrating a case with less traditional symptoms this story also illustrates the importance and value of early intervention.


- 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.

-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.

- Levant, R.F., Pollack, W.S. (eds.) (1995): A New Psychology of Men. New York: Basic Books.
- 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.