In the role of motherhood, a mom should be able to be hopeful and encouraging in their child’s eyes. But imagine life for a mom who can’t easily give that affection. This mainly happens to moms with depression disorders, which is common for younger moms who silently suffer.
While reading a few articles on the topic, I stumbled across a story in the Washington Post about a child who watched her mom endure the illness. Dr. Ann Mastergeorge began her story reflecting on her troubled childhood.
“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.
Although most moms with depression are able to experience happiness at times, her mom suffered from chronic, lifelong 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. One in five children in the U.S. live in households with parents who have major or severe depression disorders according to the National Academy of Sciences. Mastergoerge’s case became the caretaker in her home with four other siblings, which is common because sometimes these parents are unable to care for their children or even nurture them properly without treatment. 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 from children 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 for emotional support. Other emotional issues follow such as insecurity, increased risk for mental health problems and troubled social relationships.
Many Moms Go Untreated. 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 their 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 Zeta-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)
- Troubled social relationships
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feeling
- 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
Easing depression symptoms. Nothing can replace professional help, but practicing healthy habits reduce the symptoms:
2.) You’re diet and sleeping habits are a huge factor in managing depression. For example, eating a lot of sugar can increase depression due to a rise and spike in blood sugar levels that cause you to experience a drain or lack of sleep. Eating and sleeping habits make or break a depressed person.
3.) Exercise and activities should be incorporated into the plan along with attending local events and doing things that you enjoy. Walking at least once a day will get your blood circulating to your brain, and make you feel energized and happy.
4.) Natural remedies help. Buy green tea for depression or natural supplements for anxiety and depression at your local vitamin shop. Omega-3 Fatty Acids are helpful; Green tea and St. John’s Wort tea relaxes you.
5.) Deficiencies of magnesium and the Vitamin B9, also known as folate, have been linked to depression. PsychCentral suggests that patients treated with 0.8mg of folic acid per day or 0.4mg of vitamin B12 per day will have reduced depression symptoms.