The inter-relationship between depressive, anxiety and stress symptoms in fathers during the antenatal period

Kim Yiong Wee, Helen Skouteris, Ben Richardson, Skye McPhie, Briony Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The aim of this study was to examine whether depressive symptoms predict anxiety and stress or whether anxiety and stress precede depressive symptoms in fathers during the antenatal period. Background: The findings of previous studies suggest that there is an association between paternal depression, anxiety and stress during the antenatal period. However, the temporal inter-relationship between these variables has yet to be investigated. Method: Data were collected from 150 expectant couples at approximately 18, 25 and 33 weeks’ gestation. Results: After accounting for the relative stability of depression, anxiety and stress over time, for men higher levels of anxiety earlier in pregnancy predicted higher levels of depression and stress in middle pregnancy, which predicted higher depression during late pregnancy. A similar relationship remained after partialling out the effects of partner’s depression, perceived social support and sleep quality. Further analyses also revealed significant differences in the manifestation of distress symptoms between men and women, but not between first-time and non-first-time fathers. Conclusion: Our findings indicated a possible inter-relationship between depression, anxiety and stress for men antenatally. Our findings also showed that men who reported elevated depression, anxiety and stress earlier in the antenatal period also reported elevated symptomology at later time points. Finally, the current findings revealed that antenatal paternal stress may play a key role in the development of depression and anxiety later in pregnancy. Therefore, it may be important to screen for early levels of antenatal stress in men, as well as depression and anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-373
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • antenatal
  • anxiety
  • depressive symptoms
  • fathers
  • men
  • pregnancy
  • stress

Cite this