Stay-at-home mom depression is a very real experience for many women. Learn why it may be happening to you and how you can treat it.
Ways To Cope With Stay At Home Mom Depression
Being a stay a home mom is one of the most rewarding experiences a woman can experience. Yet, it can also be one of the hardest emotionally. In the U.S. approximately 28% of stay-at-home moms report feeling depressed. But why are we seeing such high numbers of stay-at-home moms with depression?
It’s true what they say, being a stay-at-home mom is a full-time job. Not only are you caring for a child, but you’re also in charge of all the errands, the housework, and making sure the whole household doesn’t fall apart by default.
You work essentially 24 hours a day, constantly pulling all-nighters to get everything done, you don’t get any breaks, and you’re not being paid for your gig at the end of the day. But, so many of us love it!
We need to give much more credit to stay-at-home moms. A major part of that is recognizing when they’re not in the best place and may be experiencing signs of depression. Just like any other kind of depression, it should be taken seriously.
If you or someone you know may be experiencing signs of stay-at-home mom depression, keep on reading to figure out why this may be happening and how it can be treated.
What are the symptoms of stay-at-home mom depression?
Depression for stay-at-home moms has the same symptoms as any other kind of depression. The main difference is when it takes place. It occurs after having kids and becoming a SAHM.
Many mothers feel a sense of hopelessness in their situation and are pessimistic about what the day will be like. They resent their circumstances and feel worthless and helpless at changing the situation. A sense of isolation is a major one as interactions with the world outside the home decrease.
As a result of the above symptoms, most also feel a sense of guilt for feeling this way. Since SAHMs are considered an ideal lifestyle, they don’t understand why they’re unhappy with it.
All of this can lead to physical symptoms, such as insomnia and fatigue, as the upset makes them unable to sleep.
Over time, the symptoms can worsen. Mothers may find that they lose interest in things they previously loved, lose a lack of appetite and ability to sleep, and have suicidal thoughts. Even mild symptoms should be treated immediately as the illness can progress.
It should be important to note the stigma surrounding stay-at-home moms diagnosed with depression. Feeling unfulfilled or resentful of your situation doesn’t mean the mom is unhappy with their family or that they love their kids any less.
It doesn’t make them anything less of an amazing mother.
SAHM depression should be seen as a mental illness that should be treated with love and support.
Who is at risk of being a depressed stay-at-home mom?
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been a stay-at-home mom for years or are new to the situation, depression can affect everyone. The greatest people at risk are those whose personal wishes go against their current circumstances and those with a predisposition to depression.
In this case, SAHMs who want to work but are unable to are most often affected by depression. Usually, this is due to the cost of childcare.
The average cost to provide child care in the U.S. is $1,230 a month for an infant. With median income, an average of 18% of income would be needed to cover the cost of childcare for an infant. This often means that it doesn’t make sense to pay for childcare and have both parents work for many families.
We cannot always assume that someone who is a stay-at-home mom has chosen to be one.
A study by Gallup interviewed over 60,000 women in the U.S. and found that 28% of stay-at-home moms reported feeling depressed during the day compared to 17% of employed mothers. Employed women without kids also report 17%.
Regardless of being a mother or not, employment greatly reduces depression symptoms.
Why does a mom develop depression?
Why would working have such an impact on your chances of having depression? There are a lot of factors at play when it comes to depressed stay-at-home moms. In reality, most parents aren’t prepared for the major life change of having kids, even those who planned and greatly desired it.
When you have a child, you can experience a quick loss of:
- Social life
- And, the world you knew before having kids.
Of course, while you gain something else new and wonderful, you can still feel a loss of lifestyle before having kids.
For stay-at-home mothers, this change is even more drastic. You have to work more to engage with people outside the home and do things other than being a mom. For employed mothers, this happens inherently from working.
Depressed stay-at-home moms may also feel a lack of appreciation or sense of accomplishment.
Even when you’re busy for a whole day, it’s not always easy to put to words what you did during the day. And oftentimes, there is no break from the routine. The same tasks occur over again each day and it can begin to feel mundane for some.
Society doesn’t value the hard work that goes into being a stay-at-home mom the same way they value working mothers.
Is postpartum depression the same thing?
The lines get a little blurry, but they are technically two different kinds of depression. New mothers can have both postpartum depression and stay-at-home mom depression, but they aren’t mutually exclusive.
Postpartum depression occurs after a woman gives birth, from a few weeks after giving birth up to a year afterward. Stay-at-home mom depression is when a woman is at home and raising a child. It can be anytime from birth through to the child becoming an adult at 18.
You can experience SAHM depression even if you never experienced postpartum depression. However, those who have experienced postpartum depression may also experience SAHM depression as they’re predisposed to depression in general.
Can men get it too?
Yes, men are also at risk of stay-at-home dad depression.
As more fathers choose to be a stay at home dad, the number of fathers diagnosed with depression have also risen. The symptoms of depression for stay-at-home dads are the same as SAHMs and treatment should be the same.
There has been less research on depressed stay-at-home dads, but they face two stigmas due to their gender:
- Mental illness
- And, not providing for their family
Both are seen as signs of weakness due to gender norms. Society places a great emphasis on men as the strong supporters of a family. Not doing so can feel like a threat to their masculinity.
Because of all of this, fathers might be more likely to mask their symptoms.
Treatment for stay-at-home mom depression
The treatment for depressed stay-at-home moms should be the same as for any other depression. It should also be taken with the same level of seriousness.
>>The important thing to do is to seek the cause of the depression.
If it’s a lack of appreciation, talk with a partner about the challenges being faced and how everyday acknowledgment is needed. A lack of accomplishment in a day can be helped by creating a list full of the day’s tasks completed.
Mothers also need to seek to take time for themselves, whether that is getting a part-time job, taking time for an old hobby, or even having a good soak in the tub.
In addition to making lifestyle changes, it’s important to consult a doctor and get a proper diagnosis. Treatment will look different for everyone so a doctor can help tailor a treatment plan that suits specific needs. They may recommend medication or psychotherapy as a method of treatment.
If you or someone you love is experiencing symptoms of depression, it’s important to seek immediate treatment.
A big part of helping depressed stay-at-home moms comes from a major change in thinking. The world as a whole needs to give stay-at-home moms much more credit.
Raising a child truly is a thankless job that many of us would do over again and again. But, there are tantrums, dirty laundry, school pickups, and a complete lack of spare time to deal with for all the moments of joy.
Whether a mother chooses to work or be a stay-at-home mom, we have to learn to not only respect but admire the option they choose. Being a mother is a hard thing to do and it’s completely normal to become exhausted and helpless at times.
No matter who you are, never shy away from your feelings!
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