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“My mom is depressed — how can I help?” It’s a question that no child should have to ask. However, children of all ages face the reality of helping a depressed mother navigate their mental wellness.
Just remember — you are not alone in this experience. There are certain things you can do to help your mom with depression, but ultimately it’s up to your mother and the professionals to handle her recovery.
What is Depression?
Depression is a mental health disorder that influences how a person feels and thinks. It changes how their brain works and can also affect their behavior. Depression isn’t a weakness or a choice — it’s a disorder that happens outside of our control.
About 10% of American women, including many mothers, experience depression. Many new moms face “baby blues” depression in the first few weeks after giving birth. Sometimes these blues go away on their own, but sometimes they may linger into postpartum depression.
Other times, mothers may experience depression as a result of life changes, external stresses or biological causes. There is not always a rhyme or reason behind depression, and it’s important to remember that depression doesn’t reflect her fulfillment or love for the family.
Symptoms of Depression
A depressed mother’s symptoms will look different for every individual, but many women experience the most common signs. If you’re questioning whether your mom is depressed, look out for telltale signs like:
- Showing more irritability than normal
- Wanting to be alone more than usual
- Having a hard time doing everyday tasks, like getting up in the morning or making meals
- Not wanting to spend time playing or hanging out as often as before
- Crying or being sad
- Worrying or having negative thoughts
My Mon Has Depression: How to Help a Depressed Mother
If you’re noticing your mom showing any depression symptoms, it’s often hard to know how to react. Wondering how to help a depressed parent? Remember that it’s not up to you to find a solution. Your mom may have to seek treatment and professional care to find a long-lasting solution. However, there are some simple things you can do to help ease your mom’s mind and show your support.
Tell your mom how much you care through loving words and encouragement. Try to stay patient even when depression makes it difficult for your mom to spend time doing your regular routines together. Depending on your age, you may want to volunteer with chores around the house, like cooking meals or helping out with the cleaning.
If you’re trying to decide how to deal with a depressed mother, the most important thing you can do is to stay positive. Accepting that you can’t fix the depression, but that she can get better, will help both you and your mom move forward.
How to Be a Good Mom While Depressed
As a mom, you’ll do anything possible to care for your kids. However, depression and anxiety can get in the way, draining your physical, mental and emotional energy. Many mothers who struggle with depression find it difficult to accomplish everyday tasks and spend extended time with others. We know that all you want is to be a good mom — but it can be difficult to know how when you’re battling depression.
These tips will help the entire family navigate depression and anxiety disorder as a team.
It might be tempting to shy away from difficult conversations about depression. Maybe you don’t want to worry your children, or perhaps you’re not sure exactly how to explain the complexity of mental health. Clear and honest communication will help your child understand any behavioral changes and bring your family closer together.
Choose age-appropriate language and be sure to explain that any impatience, irritability or sadness you feel is not your child’s fault. Give everybody space to share how they’re feeling, too.
Use positive words to communicate that you’re doing everything you can to recover. Whether you’re seeing a therapist, taking medication or researching your options, it’s important to reassure your child that you’re taking active steps to get better.
Ask for Help
As a mother, one of the most important things you can do is reach out and ask for support. You might need to ask your spouse, relatives or friends to help out with practical to-dos around the house.
Longer-term, it’s important to seek professional help to heal from depression. Compassionate counselors can help you find freedom from depression through therapy and medication so that you can continue being the best mom possible.
Reach Out for Professional Help
There are many different options available to mothers struggling with depression. From prescription medication to regular therapy, you’re never far from a helping hand.
Gateway Foundation brings more than 50 years of quality treatment experience to individuals across Illinois. Our staff is filled with caring and compassionate professionals who work to treat both addiction and mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety. Reach out to our team today to learn more about receiving care.