Being a parent is not an easy task, and this task becomes much more difficult when a parent is not in a good mental state. This mental crisis leaves parents dissatisfied with their parenting, and they end up torturing themselves for it, aggravating their mental health even further. Therefore, it is essential for parents suffering from depression to get immediate care. However, society often does not take mental health seriously, and this lack of seriousness makes parents take their conditions lightly.
But time has come to understand that parenting and depression cannot go hand in hand. So, here is a brief description of parenting depression, along with everything you need to know about it.
What Is Parental Depression?
Parental depression is a condition where a parent suffers from depression and cannot participate in parenting properly. This condition is also harmful to children, as they may find themselves very weakly attached to their parents and find themselves in a situation where they do not know how to deal with a parent with depression. Moreover, parental depression is also harmful to the parent. When they see their children suffering with them, they may feel that their depression increases exponentially with each passing day.
Does Depression Affect Parenting?
Depression is directly responsible for affecting the mental state of the parent. And a parent who is not in a good mental state cannot perform their parenting well. There are several ways in which parenting gets affected by parental depression.
1. Weakened Bond
Depression usually affects a parent in lots of ways. It can drain them of energy and happiness, compelling them to withdraw from social activity. And due to these conditions, they cannot spend more time with their children, who, due to this detachment from their parents, learn to live independently.
2. Affects Child’s Coping Mechanism
Everyone learns everything from their parents, and this also applies to the fact that children may learn how to deal with stress from their parents. Studies show that children learn to handle things calmly from their mother and to deal with things more boldly in an assertive manner from their fathers. And if any one of them is mentally disturbed, it changes the whole equation, and the child is the one who suffers.
3. Increases Parental Guilt
Parents who suffer from depression usually know that their children suffer because of them. And the inability to do something about it makes them frustrated and plunges them into grief. And this self-blame and guilt make them assume that their parenting is far worse than it is.
4. Leads to Ineffective Parenting Strategies
When a parent is under the impression that they are behind all the problems their child is facing, they find it very difficult to enforce any boundaries. This leads to further deterioration of a child’s behavior up to a stage that can’t be amended.
What Are the Effects of Parental Depression on Children?
When parents suffer from depression, they find it hard to respond to their children’s needs. Not only does a child lose a connection with their parents, but they also find themselves in a situation when they are exposed to negative thoughts. Some of the primary effects that parental depression has on a child are:
- When children have a depressed parent, they cannot get proper guidance from their parents. This makes them impulsive, and they often find themselves unable to control their emotions and lack decision-making skills.
- In their adolescent phase, children learn poor communication and social skills from their parents and peers. And a depressed parent will have a very serious impact on their cognitive skills.
- Parenting through depression also leads to a very unfriendly environment in the home. Moreover, parents also fail to provide their children with necessities, like driving them to school, keeping them in good health, and giving food to them on time.
- It also takes a toll on basic parenting activities, such as reading a book for the children. They may not be very lively with their child while telling the story because they lack the energy to imitate these characters.
Signs of Parental Depression
Depression is responsible for increased anxiety, low energy level, and disrupted sleep. These factors severely impact the parent’s minds, which is reflected in their parenting. Moreover, they also tend to lose interest in things they previously enjoyed a lot. However, some signs and symptoms of parental depression are:
- Parents with depression are not responsive to children. Studies show that parents who suffer from depression cannot respond to basic gestures such as eye contact or crying.
- Inappropriate parenting is also a big sign that the parent suffers from parental depression. They tend to neglect their child’s needs and are not properly engaged in their lives. While some depressed parents may get very close to their children, this hyper intrusion may make the child feel that their parents are not respecting their feelings and not giving them space.
- Tardiness of children may also be an indication of a disturbed parent. The child may miss school or arrive late regularly. This is because their parents may not have the energy or the proper mental state to help their children get ready for school, and these children cannot cope with a parent with depression.
How to Diagnose Parental Depression?
Doctors are often aware of all the effects that depression can have on a person’s life and overall well-being. Therefore, visit a doctor whenever you feel like something is not right. By observing your weight, energy levels, and any recent lifestyle changes, most physiologists may tell you better about your condition.
How to Treat Parental Depression?
Parental depression, like any other type of depression, can be treated using cognitive behavioral therapy. This type of therapy is known to reconfigure the negative thoughts in the minds of a dressed person and change them into positive ones. Some sessions are also conducted with children and their parents to help the parent understand various cues of the child and care for them in a much better way.
Most people in America are actively taking antidepressants to manage their depression. It is a very cost-effective way to deal with your depression. But you should always consult a doctor before taking any medications, as some antidepressants are not safe for everyone. Moreover, it would help if you were not aware that a pill could fix your depression right away. Most pills take weeks or even months to have any visible effects on our body.
Psychotherapy is one of the most effective ways to deal with depression. However, you need to be highly invested in these exercises, complete your homework, and practice everything the doctor recommends. These psychological therapies can be very expensive for some people. And if you can’t afford them, look for online platforms where you can get some therapy tools for free. These apps and tools will help you recover yourself using self-help.
3. Therapy Group
It is a group of people suffering from a common mental issue, such as depression, who get together in a place and discuss their issues with each other. This creates an environment where depressed parents get to know more people like them, which helps them share their thoughts openly.
Tips to Remember While Parenting With Depression
Parents who suffer from depression often feel dejected and are confused about improving themselves. Here are some tips for parenting with depression that will help you understand and take care of your kids.
1. Go For Consultation
If you ever feel that you cannot control your situation, it is best to ask an expert for help. Any good doctor will help you with a good treatment to control your depression. However, you should not rely only on medicines and try to give some time to therapy.
2. Don’t Blame Yourself
Depression may sometimes force you to do things that you do not wish to do. Therefore, it is not always your fault if you do something because of your condition. No one is perfect in the world, and many parents like you are struggling, so don’t be too harsh on yourself.
3. Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle
The key to mental health is good physical health. If you have a sound body, you will be able to think more clearly. Therefore, you should follow a healthy lifestyle. Do exercises, go on a walk, or run. Pick a physical activity that suits you and do it regularly.
4. Try To Live A Balanced Life
Living a balanced life will give you more opportunities to spend time with your child and execute all your duties on time. When you accomplish these things, you will be satisfied that you are doing good at parenting, which will help you with your depression.
5. Build A Support Network
Parenting is a tough job, but it can be made easier if you have the right people around you. When you don’t feel like doing anything, do not hesitate to ask your friends for some help. Moreover, you should also be open to your friends about how you feel, and if you ever feel overburdened, do not hesitate to join any depression support group.
6. Use Shortcuts
No one is a super dad or super mom. Everyone needs to take a day off from parenting, and you are no different. On some days, you may feel that your children are suffering too much from the impact of parental depression experienced by you; give them a treat, and you too take a break from everything.
7. Do Things That You Love
Taking time for yourself now and then is also necessary to put yourself in a good mood. Try doing something new, join a dance club, learn music, play games, or you can spend time with your friends at any nearest club. Moreover, you can also do fun activities with your child to make them feel loved.
8. Don’t Miss Therapy
Therapy is essential for treating your condition and eliminating depression from the core. And if you think after a few sessions that you are doing fine, there is a chance that you are not completely healed. Therefore, you need to complete your therapy and medications for better results.
Parental depression is a very serious condition, and if you know someone suffering from it, do advise them to take proper consultation. Moreover, you also need to ensure that you follow all the tips mentioned above for a speedy recovery if you are suffering.