The condition is usually associated with women but a new study has found one in 10 new dads are affected by postnatal depression.

The condition, characterised by prolonged periods of clinical depression after childbirth, has become increasingly prevalent among men, the study released by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) reveals.

AIFS deputy director Dr Daryl Higgins said some men find it hard to adjust to the reality of pregnancy and the implications it has for their lives.

"The transition to parenthood appears to be a time of heightened risk of fathers developing depression, compared to the general adult male population," Dr Higgins said.


"While fathers are still far less likely than mothers to experience postnatal depression, we are beginning to realise that it is an important issue for men, too."

Between 12 and 15 per cent of women suffer postnatal depression according to the Royal Women's Hospital.

The Child Family Community Australia discussion paper also found fathers with poor mental health may be affecting their child's development.

Researcher Rhys Price-Robertson said dads with mental health issues are more likely to show low levels of parental engagement and warmth towards their kids.

"The children of men with a mental illness are more likely than other children to experience emotional and behavioural problems, as well as to be diagnosed with a mental illness themselves," he said.

"Mental illness can also impact on children by contributing to marital hostility or violence, which can spill over into problematic parenting behaviours, poor relationships with children and co-parenting relations."