Moms are hopeful and encouraging in their child’s eyes. We can brighten their day with one smile, but imagine life for a mom who can’t easily give affection.
Depression is prevalent among younger moms who silently suffer. While reading a few articles on depression, I stumbled across a story in the Washington Post. Dr. Ann Mastergeorge began her story reflecting on her troubled childhood—the story was moving.
“When I think back to my mother when I was a child, I don’t have a single memory of her smiling,” said Ann Mastergeorge, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Family Studies and Human Development at the University of Arizona.
Her mom suffered from chronic depression. She claims that the experience has haunted her until this day.
Children suffer the most
Her story epitomizes life as a child living with a depressed parent. The National Academy of Sciences reports that about one in five children in the U.S. live in households with parents who have major or severe depression.
In Dr. Mastergoerge’s case, it was so bad that she became the care-taker in her home, which is common.
Extensive research has shown that a mother’s depression, especially when untreated, can interfere with her child’s social and emotional development.
Cries for attention lead to behavioral problems and attachment issues. Although moms are suffering from depression, children don’t understand the sickness. So they personalize it.
Later on in life, girls get clingy to boyfriends or friends for emotional support.
Other emotional issues follow such as insecurity, increased risk for mental health problems and troubled social relationships.
Most women don’t get help. Some are unaware of their problem or avoid talking about it because of the stigma attached to depression. They wonder what others will think about them. However, if feelings of depression appear, it’s imperative to seek the proper attention. A popular celebrity spoke of her condition to increase awareness.
“I’m not the kind of person who likes to shout out my personal issues from the rooftops but, with my bipolar becoming public, I hope fellow sufferers will know it is completely controllable,” Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Like Jones, mothers with depression are often disengaged, anti-social and withdrawn. Oftentimes, they struggle to do the things most moms do with ease. Engaging children, having healthy conversation and keeping up with daily care are some of the struggles– moms may even lash out and react harshly.
When describing depression, some say it is a miserable feeling and a sadness that they cannot shake. Moms feel lethargic and even depressed to the point of being confined to the bed. Frustration, discouragement, irritability, anger and abusive behavior are the common resultant, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
It can get worse when alcohol or drugs are used as a coping method to self-medicate.
Signs and symptoms of depression (National Institute of Mental Health)
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feeling
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Irritability, restlessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- Overeating, or appetite loss
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempt
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment.
Ease depression symptoms
Nothing can replace professional help, but healthy practices reduce the symptoms. Say positive affirmations and prayers in the morning to set the tone for the day. Meditate on scriptures. Here are a few: 2 Samuel 22:17-22, 2 Samuel 22:29, Psalm 34:18, 19.
You’re diet and sleeping habits are a huge factor in managing depression. What you eat can make or break a depressed person. Opt for natural foods.
Buy natural remedies including green tea for depression or natural supplements for anxiety and depression at your local Vitamin Shoppe. Omega-3 Fatty Acids are recommended; St. John’s Wort tea relaxes you.
Deficiencies of magnesium and the B vitamin folate have been linked to depression. Psych Central suggests that patients treated with 0.8mg of folic acid per day or 0.4mg of vitamin B12 per day will reduce depression symptoms.
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