While major depression is a well-defined mental health condition, it's presentation can be vastly different across individuals and groups, and many factors impact one's vulnerability. A critical period of vulnerability to depression is the postpartum period. Despite the frequent assumption that postpartum conditions solely affect women, prevalence estimates of paternal postpartum depression (PPPD) are comparable with those of women. Similar to mothers, men experience significant biological and psychosocial changes following the birth of a child that contribute to the onset of postpartum depression. A growing body of research has identified many potential variables related to PPPD, yet there is no clear consensus as to which variables are the most impactful. Following PRISMA guidelines, we conducted a meta-analysis to aggregate the known findings and quantitatively determine the most salient predictors of PPPD. We hypothesized that the psychosocial factors of relationship satisfaction, social support, partner depression and history of depression would yield the strongest aggregate effect sizes. By searching databases using logical operations, as well as conducting backward and forward searches, we identified 129 articles that met inclusion/exclusion criteria with a total sample size of 114,712 participants (79,743 fathers). Trained independent coders extracted data directly from identified studies, including sample characteristics for descriptives and moderators, and demographic correlates. Correlates of primary interest include but are not limited to maternal depression, history of depression, relationship satisfaction, and social support. Effect sizes represented as Pearson correlations (or transformed to r using standard procedures) were calculated and compared using a random-effects model. In partial support of our hypothesis, fathers' reported history of depression had one of the largest effect sizes (r = .469, unbiased r = .368). The other primary psychosocial factors had relatively moderate effect sizes: social support, r = -.359 (unbiased r = -.398); relationship satisfaction, r = -.300 (unbiased r = -.266); and partner depression, r = .294 (unbiased r = .471). The correlates of PPPD with the strongest effect sizes were all factors associated with personal distress and stressful pregnancies. Demographic correlates (i.e., younger age, non-White ethnicity, lower education, unemployment, lower SES) generally had small though statistically significant effect sizes. This study helps provide a clearer picture of what predicts PPPD to more accurately screen for men at greatest risk and inform the development of diagnostic measures and treatments. It also lays the groundwork for future work in a more unified and productive direction. By researching and sharing better information, we can provide better access and better outcomes for postpartum couples.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Psychology



Date Submitted


Document Type





paternal postpartum depression, parenthood, couples, meta-analysis