Depression impacts roughly 264 million people across the globe, with 7.1% of adults in the United States alone having faced a major depressive episode at least once. Although depressive disorders are considered very common, living with depression can feel isolating. With depression, life obligations may start to feel overwhelming, and symptoms can induce disproportionate guilt. This can be particularly difficult or cause unique challenges for parents. That said, anyone can experience depression, and if you’re a parent with depression, or if you’re a parent who thinks you could be experiencing depression but aren’t sure, you’re not alone. So, what can you do?
Symptoms Of Depression
First, let’s talk about common symptoms of depression. Understanding the symptoms of depression can help you to identify them in yourself. Symptoms of depression may include but aren’t limited to:
- A low or depressed mood
- The loss of interest in activities one used to enjoy
- Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or guilt
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Body aches
- Muscle tension
- Social isolation or withdrawal from others
- Changes in appetite
- Trouble concentrating or focusing
Irritability, mood swings, and excessive crying are also common symptoms. Everyone experiences depression differently, so be mindful that the way that you experience depression or symptoms of a depressive disorder may vary from those seen in another person with depression. There are a number of different depressive disorders or types of depression, including but not limited to major depressive disorder (MDD), persistent depressive disorder (PDD), and postpartum depression.
Navigating Depression As A Parent
You know how the saying goes – parenting is a full-time job, and it’s one of the most important jobs out there by far. Even for parents without depression, there are tough moments and worries, but with depression, your mind might be extra hard on you. Here are some things you can do to be more gentle with yourself and work through rough times:
- Ask for help.
Depending on the way you experience depression, certain tasks can be tricky, if not impossible. It’s okay to ask for help, whether that means asking a family member to help around the house or something else.
- Challenge perfectionism.
There’s a known link between depression and perfectionism. You want to do your best, but being hard on yourself can backfire. Self-compassion is proven to be advantageous for those facing depression and perfectionism. Remind yourself that you don’t have to be perfect, and know that the kids don’t need a “perfect” parent – what they need and want is you.
- Use self-care..
It’s essential to spend time with your family, but me-time matters, too. You are allowed to have time for self-care, and caring for yourself benefits everyone in the end. It can be both relaxing and energizing, and it does set a positive example, too. Remember, self care looks different day-to-day based on your life and your needs; sometimes, self-care is making sure you clean the home, and sometimes, it’s a night to yourself. Either way, you deserve to take care of yourself.
- Use positive self-talk.
Positive self-talk and affirmations are helpful for reframing negative, self-criticial, or otherwise unhelpful thoughts. Congratulate yourself for the (seemingly) little things, and when a maladaptive thought (“I’m not good enough,” “I’m a failure,” etc.), shows up, challenge it by saying, “I’m doing the best I can with what I have,” “I am loved,” “I am not a failure,” or whatever’s the most relevant to you and your situation at that moment. Treat yourself the way you’d treat a child or beloved friend, and don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to them.
- See a therapist.
Whether you’re struggling with depression, stress, parenting, interpersonal relationships, or anything else that’s on your mind, talking with a therapist can help. Therapy is a confidential and non-judgmental space to talk about anything that’s on your mind. It’s crucial to take care of your mental health as a parent, and taking that time out of your week to focus on you is more advantageous across the board than you might imagine.
Find A Therapist
Sometimes, the hard part isn’t wanting help, but knowing where to look. There are a number of different ways to find a therapist. You can contact your insurance company to see who they cover, search the web, ask your doctor for a referral, or sign up for a reputable online therapy platform like BetterHelp. All of the providers on the BetterHelp platform are licensed, and online therapy is often more affordable than traditional in-person services are without insurance. Online therapy makes finding the right fit a more manageable task, allowing you to access a wide range of providers licensed in your state with various specialties. Since you can connect for a session from the privacy of your own home or anywhere else with a reliable internet connection, online therapy is an excellent way for busy parents to get support. No matter how you find a therapist, you deserve to get the care you need, so don’t hesitate to reach out and get started today.
Marie Miguel Biography
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com.
With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.