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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Motherhood and Depression

I wasn’t supposed to be depressed. I didn’t even want to call it by that name. I had a beautiful home, wonderful children, and a caring and supportive husband. There was no logical reason for the sadness that loomed over me like a dark cloud. Sharing my feelings with a friend was out of the question. From the outside my life was enviable; but every day, I knew the exhaustion would come. I focused on the negatives in my life, instead of the blessings. My temper flared at the smallest things and I would lash out at my children, husband, or even the dog. Staying in pajamas until noon seemed like a really great idea and planning a meal became a daunting task. For months, I let depression change who I was. My whole life, I had seen the glass as half full, had been energetic and able to engage with my husband at the end of the day. I planned meals by the week and even made enough to freeze for later, or to share with a friend who had a new baby, or who was having a rough week. Little by little, I started to take the kids to dinner out, to go to bed right after they did, and lose interest in activities I once enjoyed. My best friend noticed, but she had her own issues to deal with and I wouldn’t burden her with mine. My sister said something, as well, but she was so far away as to not see the everyday changes, so I could brush it off with an excuse of being just a bit tired that week. I know my husband noticed, but it was hard for him to admit that I was struggling. I saw a primary care physician for some routine shots, my first non-obstetric exam in years. At a follow-up visit I couldn’t hold back my tears. It was waterworks, the kind where you have trouble breathing. She was very gentle and asked me a few questions about what was going on, how long I had been feeling this way, appetite, energy... It took no longer than ten minutes to diagnose me with depression. Three recommendations: exercise, talk therapy, and an antidepressant. I promised to exercise more, took the name of the therapists she recommended and went straight to the pharmacy for my prescription. I took the first one immediately. I wanted to feel better, to crawl out of the dark hole that had become my holding cell. I’m sure it was a placebo effect, but I felt better driving out of the parking lot. The next day I felt even better. I was calm and talking to my family instead of instantly losing it and yelling. The next week I was a new person. After two weeks, I was a new, improved version of myself; not in a crazy, Stepford Wife way, but a new-shoes-and-haircut way. Over the next few months, I added days to my life. I was no longer constantly tired but woke up eager to see my family to stay up late talking to my husband or to read a good book. My friends noticed I was improving, and my children benefited from having a happier mom. Several months later, I am feeling back to my self. I have stopped taking the medicine but continue therapy. The drugs were just a way for me to get back to normal. Now that I am in control of myself and my emotions, I am discovering what my red flags are so I can wave the white one when I need help. I realize that I don’t need to be supermom. It’s okay if the carpet isn’t vacuumed every day or the kids watch a video so I can shower. A turkey sandwich for dinner is a fine meal for a four-year-old. Trying to do it all had made me not want to do anything at all. I share this in hopes that other mothers with depression will seek help. Women are twice as likely as men to suffer from depression. We tend to ruminate on our feelings; including crying to relieve emotional tension, hashing out details with friends or trying to figure out why one is sad. This actually maintains the depression, making it worse. Some symptoms of depression are:
  • depressed mood
  • loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • feelings of guilt
  • suicidal thoughts or recurring thoughts of death
  • sleep disturbance (sleeping more or less)
  • appetite/weight changes
  • lack of energy
  • difficulty concentrating
Mothers with depression are less likely to engage positively with their children, such as playing, reading or singing. They may even have trouble managing basic child well-being tasks, such as arranging doctor's checkups, childproofing a home or buckling children up in cars. Depressed parents tend to be less consistent in their parenting. As symptoms wax and wane, discipline and engagement can fluctuate, leaving children in less-stable environments. This can lead to a vicious cycle. When depressed mothers do not respond well to their children, the children tend not to respond well to the mother, adding to the mother's anxiety. Depression is a horrible disease to experience. If you are concerned, talk to a professional to find the right course of action for you.


  1. This hit the nail in the head for me. I'm a single parent and don't know how to ask for help nor can I afford the therapy co-pays.

  2. Ask For Help don't go it alone! I had mothers blue once. I talked to my doctor and he gave me a series of Vitamin B-12 that helped my energy level and lifted my sluggish feeling. I talked to other Women and told them what I was feeling one of those women talked to me about God. I sought the advice of a Pastor started going to Church where other Women I told Prayed for me and before I knew it I was getting better and better. But remember you should talk to someone the more you talk the better you will feel. Talk to someone wether that be a Pastor, Priest, or whom ever you feel comfortable with Talk don't keep it inside.


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