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Background: For most fathers, the early postnatal period is a time of great joy and happiness; however, some fathers experience difficulties in repositioning themselves in relation to their partner, child, and work, which can lead to increased stress, anxiety and depression. The aim of this study was to investigate the coexistence
of paternal stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms in the early postnatal period (0–4 days).
Methods: A quantitative, cross-sectional, descriptive correlational design was used. Data were collected using a self-administered questionnaire comprising the Perceived Stress Scale, the State–Trait Anxiety Inventory, and the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale. Demographic data collected included the father’s age, number of children, level of education, relationship status, nationality, and their mental health history including that of their partner. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression were used to investigate factors associated the coexistence of symptoms.
Results: A total of 336 fathers were included in the study. Forty-three fathers (12.8%) met the criteria for the coexistence of stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms. The coexistence of two or more symptoms of stress, anxiety, or depression was almost twice as common as having only one symptom. A self-reported history of anxiety (P < 0.001), a negative experience of labor and birth (P < 0.001), and being of a younger age (P = 0.034) were significantly associated with the coexistence of stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms.
Limitations: The data collected was cross-sectional; therefore, causal links cannot be determined.
Conclusion: The findings highlight the need to move away from the predominant focus on depression which has existed among researchers and clinicians, to encompass a broader understanding of adverse paternal mental health outcomes to include stress, anxiety, and the coexistence of symptoms.
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