Parenting with Depression
Depression is a serious mental illness that affects 1 out of 20 Americans 12 years of age and older. It is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 10% of adults aged 40-59 reported current depression. Depression, if not properly treated can lead to other serious injuries and diseases.
Those that suffer from depression experience a serious mood disorder that inhibits the ability to function—work, eat, sleep, etc. Which is why parenting might seem out of the question for some. How can you care for your children when you first need to take care of yourself? Though depression has its own set of challenges, it doesn’t mean you can’t be a loving and caring parent to your children.
Below we discuss living with depression as well as tips for parenting with depression.
What is depression?
Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, depression is a constant feeling of sadness and loss of interest. This severely affects your daily activities and the ability to live your life. Depressive episodes are long term and can be improved through medication and counseling.
Depression can take on several forms. Below are the most common:
Dysthymic Disorder—Those with dysthymic disorder have a mild type of depression where episodes can last for two years. They may also experience times of major depression. However, it is less debilitating as a person is still able to complete their daily activities.
Postpartum Depression—Women with postpartum depression experience intense feelings of anxiety, sadness or despair after giving birth due to changes in hormone levels. This hinders their ability to complete daily tasks. Learn more about Postpartum Depression.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)—Those with SAD have depression symptoms during the winter months, due to less natural sunlight. This depression is usually absent during the spring and summer months but will return again in the winter.
Psychotic depression—Those with psychotic depression have severe depression and some form of psychosis, such as delusions and hallucinations.
Atypical Depression—Those with atypical depression have symptoms of depression but can have a positive mood during a positive event. This type of depression doesn’t follow the typical patterns and symptoms of depression.
Although there is no single cause for depression, some risk factors include genetics, environmental factors, and psychological factors. Major life changes and trauma can also trigger depression.
How can you cope with depression?
Getting out of a depressed state depends on your long-term treatment plan and action goals. The key is to start small and find ways that will help boost your mood, even if you don’t feel like it. Typical treatment for depression includes psychotherapy and medication.
Although there’s no “one-size-fits-all” treatment for depression, through trial and error you can develop a long-term treatment plan that works best for you. Exercise is another form of treatment that can help those with depression.
In addition, part of coping with depression is involving your family and friends in your treatment. Having support and staying connected can positively affect your mood. Have friends and family attend doctor’s visits, therapy sessions, etc. so they can understand your illness better and can know how to help you.
Tips for Parenting with Depression
Find activities that you and your children enjoy
A great small step in overcoming your depression is participating in something that makes you feel good. Work with your child to find an activity that you both will enjoy. From going to the park to completing an art project or going out to eat—the key is to do something that relaxes you.
Have a support group on hand
As mentioned previously, it’s important to have friends and family that know of your condition and are there to support you. They should be reliable people that you can call on at a moment’s notice when you need extra help around the house or when you need to vent your frustrations. Also, have emergency plans in place that put your children in proper care while you tend to your symptoms.
In addition, know that you are not alone in the struggles of depression. Find groups (in person or online) where you can share your experiences with depression. You’ll not only grow your support group but will learn a lot from others.
No one is a perfect at parenting, so don't be too hard on yourself. When your depression episodes hit, take the time to get the proper rest and treatment you need. The world will not end if you can’t clean the house that day or if you need your kids to entertain themselves. The key is not to push yourself too hard, as you may trigger even more stress. Again, reach out to your support group when you need help.
Read books and online articles about how to power through parenting. Again, there could be some helpful tips that you wouldn’t have known otherwise.
Lastly, at the end of the day, it’s important that you take care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet, exercise, go outside, get enough sleep and stay on top of your treatment plan. As you learn to manage your symptoms, you’ll be able to balance your needs with your child’s needs. That is a big key when it comes to parenting.
At Well Street, we are proud to be the only e-counseling service designed for parents, families, kids, and teens. Our services include treating those with ADHD/ADD, anxiety, autism spectrum disorders, mood disorders, conduct and oppositional defiant disorders, depression, and sleep disorders. Our low-cost subscriptions give you 24/7 access to a counselor and weekly 1:1 sessions by chat or video.