A lot of people say that becoming a parent can change you. Who you were five or ten years ago is not the same as the person you are looking at the mirror right now. You may always feel optimistic prior to your pregnancy but now, finding positivity is like digging for gold. You seemed to have maximum energy in your body years before and now, it all disappeared!
On the bright side, being a parent made you a more mature person. I was a typical teenager with all the whims and irrational character from anyone my age. I can barely take care of myself and still on the stage of asking questions more than answering them. Who could imagine that in a split of a second I would become a mother?
Still, the good side, devoid of all the negative emotions and situations I have been through, I became more responsible in the way I think and more settled with what I have to be as a person. Who wouldn’t be when you have a child depending on you for support and care?
Going through all these processes takes a lot for people to learn, let alone absorb it in their everyday lives. We find parents who look so great in their position now and yet the next time, they stumble to their worst condition.
Accepting the fact that situations change constantly allows us to take our parental lives as easy as possible.
When Parents Feel Depressed
It is easy for me to say that acceptance is an important key in parenting. I must admit that I was not as open to the idea as with the words written above. The consequences that I faced during those hard times created a pool of confusion in my head and I ended up with unexpected consequences. I became depressed, more worried, and insecure.
Many parents experience depression at some point in their lives. Almost everyone finds it a challenge to keep up with the demands of being a parent, notwithstanding the weight of their marriages, careers, and personal needs. Indeed, it is not a question that parental depression is a tough situation to go through.
Different sources trigger depression and anxiety to parents. Instant lifestyle changes, struggling to keep up with responsibilities, and physical stress are among the reasons for some parents to feel worried and depressed. Still, there are also unknown causes that we are unable to explain why a person suffers from depression.
How Depression Can Affect Your Life as a Parent
When I was going through a depressing state, my husband and I cannot fully comprehend the reason for my negative disposition. I was too stressed, exhausted and at the brink of hopelessness. It affected my way of thinking and my productivity at work and at home.
Depression is difficult to understand and often too empowering to cut off from our system. It can devour our mindset and influence our behavior. Some people will feel less competent to perform their responsibilities as parents while others will see themselves as a failure compared to their peers.
Depressed parents will have a hard time bonding with their loved ones, most especially their children since their state of mind does not guarantee an optimistic outcome to what they are doing. Others will resort to self-blame and self-pity, pulling their insecurities deeper inside of them.
Despite their capacities to do well in their parenting ways, some parents become ineffective due to their clouded judgment. Their anxiety manifest because of their self-doubt and condemnation.
I am no stranger to these effects and I understand how challenging it is to balance self-care and selfless care. The depth of such mental condition is too significant to ignore and too immense to conceal.
How Depression Affects Your Child
Depression and anxiety can happen to a parent anytime. Some mothers go through postnatal depression while others experience it during their early pregnancy. The effect on their children is almost similar, whether before or after pregnancy.
Young parents are at risk of experiencing depression because of the stress resulted from the sudden lifestyle change. Not being able to prepare for pregnancy and early family life, mentally, physically, and emotionally, can trigger anxiety, guilt, and self-blame. During their pregnancy, their maternal depression increases the risk of prematurity and detrimental health conditions of their baby.
Untreated depression and anxiety can further affect a child as they are growing up. Children will find it hard to cope up with stress and affect their temperament. Having depressed parents can also undermine their overall development especially young children.
And Yet, There is Always Hope!
Ask any health professional and they will say that depression is treatable – and that is great news! What the treatment should be or how the process will be depend on the situation a parent is going through. Still, even the smallest of things in your life right now can critically help you cope up with your current state. Here are some ways you can help yourself.
- Be honest with the people you love, most especially your spouse. Honesty cultivates understanding. What you are going through is tough and hard to deal with, but, when you are honest with the people around you, they will somehow understand the difficulty of your situation.
- Seek help when necessary. One of the pitfalls of depression is isolation. It will gradually pull you away from other people thinking that you have become a burden. Do not be afraid to seek professional help if you feel your condition is getting worse.
- Ask assistance and support from people who care about you. Parenting is as challenging as it is, what more adding a depressing state of mind. It is not only your burden to bear, nor your sole responsibility to face. Never be afraid to ask for help when you need to, especially when it comes to your children and housework.
- Learn how to control your mind. It is exhausting to entertain the negative thoughts running every second in your brain. You need to stop it. Find the time to pray and meditate every day. Read good books and feed your soul with beautiful and enriching ideas.
- Take care of yourself. A weak physical body can affect your mental and emotional state. If you are deprived of sleep or if your body lacks the proper nutrients, it will stimulate a bad mood and a negative mindset.
- Find a breather in your stressful life. Go out of the house and try to do some other things. Do not focus on yourself always, rather see other people and enjoy the beautiful creations of God. It will help inspire optimism in your mind.
- Enjoy some time with your children. What are the activities that you and your kids love to do? You can go outside and play or you can have a quick trip to the ice cream shop. If you both love to dance and sing, find time even for just 10 minutes every day.
- Learn to forgive yourself. It is not your fault. Give yourself some slack because being a parent itself is hard but you have made it through.
You are Never Alone!
No one can predict who will have depression or when it will set in. It is a disorder triggered by various instances in our lives and, because we all have similar experiences, it is a fairly common condition. The important thing to keep in mind is that you are never alone in this situation. Hold on to the love and support of your family. Take it easy and find truth and life in everything you do.
Never give up hope!