Somewhere, at this very moment, there is a woman deep in the throes of maternal depression. A woman who has likely fulfilled her motherly tasks to a tee - feed the baby, changed the baby, clothed the baby, put the baby to sleep, but feels nothing through it all.

Some, and most, really, question their adequacy as a mother. They think they are bad mothers and don’t deserve her child. Some cannot stop crying.

Some feel exhausted to their core. Seemingly simple tasks become too much to handle, as is the case with depression.

Some see themselves as nothing more than a reproductive vessel. They wonder if they can survive. Some dread the end of the day, when night fall sets in and they are left to meet their despair face to face.

Some feel a combination of all of these things. Indeed, postpartum depression follows no set trajectory, making it even more difficult for women to grapple with their feelings.

Feed baby, change the baby, clothe the baby, put the baby to sleep. Repeat, repeat, repeat. According to the American Psychological Association, 1 in 7 women experience postpartum depression.

Most of them won’t tell you. They have learned to hide it well. They suffer, quietly, alone. It could be your be your sister, your friend. It could be your own spouse.

Postpartum depression is a rarely-talked about topic; that is changing, but much more needs to be said.

The wide-ranging effects of postpartum depression on children and the risks involved when a mother does not get the help she needs are also not talked about.

Dads are left feeling the aftereffects of their spouse’s postpartum depression, wondering how they can help their partner. Not knowing what to do, they too can feel paralyzed.

The science is showing, however, that dads have a critical role to play during this difficult time.

The Effects of PPD On Children

The reality of postpartum depression is that its effects extend beyond the mother. This is important to note because it can empower mothers, fathers and families to get the help they need.

The reality of maternal depression, as shown by the literature on the topic, is that it affects children’s cognitive development, has social-emotional effects as well as behavioural effects.

From a cognitive standpoint, it can negatively affect their performance on cognitive development, learning tasks and object permanence.

It has also been found that postpartum depression can have a long-term impact on children, resulting in lower vocabulary scores in 5-year-olds and lower cognition scores in 7-year-olds.

Studies that have looked at the social-emotional effect of postpartum depression found that it has a significantly negative effect on children's’ emotional development.

Behaviourally, babies exposed to maternal depression at 18-months old had more negative expressions, protests and disruptive behaviour during play time.

Preschoolers and kindergartens exposed to PPD during infancy are also more prone to more antisocial and aggressive behaviour and this is especially true of boys.

This knowledge is distressing, but it is important knowledge to have. Fathers armed with this information are in a better position to help their spouse seek the help that they need.

Why Dads Have to Step Up

There is no doubt that all fathers are suffering alongside their wives, just in different ways. But when so much is at risk, they must be as steadfast as they can, for their partner, their children and their family.

A new study, published in Development of Psychopathology, has shown that positive father-child relationships can minimize the negative effects of maternal depression.The study is the first of its kind.

The study showed that when fathers were sensitive, when they don’t take over the tasks of their children and when they engaged with their children socially, maternal depression no longer had the same impact on the family unit in terms of the rifts that it been previously known to cause.

In essence, fathers acted as a buffer against postpartum depression.

From one dad to another, dads, you have a critical role to play. Your child’s well being depends on it. If your spouse is suffering from postpartum depression, it is critical that you take an active role in encouraging her to get the necessary help she needs.

The Takeaway

Postpartum depression not only affects the mother but also the child and the family unit as a whole. Women are becoming empowered to share their own stories, but this needs to be encouraged even more.

Their stories are worth telling. At the same time, we also need to recognize all that is on the line when it comes to PDD and the risks of leaving it untreated. The cognitive, social and behavioural effects of PDD put a child at risk.

Dads need to familiarize themselves with the signs and symptoms of PDD, even the less common ones, and to listen to their partners.

Your spouse and your children need more of you in this time than ever before.

It won’t be easy. There are times where it will be difficult and even more than you can bear. But it is necessary.

So, dads of the world: here’s a message. Educate yourself. Take care of yourself. Your family needs you.

Author's Bio: 

Arash is the CEO of and the Managing Partner of Arete Venture Capital. He was named the Top Forty under 40 business executive by Business in Vancouver and The 30 Most Creative CEOs to Watch in 2018 by Insight Success Magazine. As a co-founder and CEO of, Arash has built the startup from ground-up to a staff of over 25 people - winning the prestigious Silicon Valley's Top 50 Startup award amongst 2000 companies in over 13 Countries.