The goal of the Mental Health Mom Stories is for Moms and Moms-to-be to share their stories to be used to help inspire, uplift and spread awareness about mental health and motherhood.
Whether you suffer from depression, PPD, PTSD, anxiety, ADHD, bipolar disorder or something else your story may help change the life of another mom reader and that’s important to me!
23 Reasonable Ways to Manage Your Depression As a Mom
Parenting is hard even when you feel on top of the world. But if you are a mom battling depression, parenting can feel next to impossible.
The house is a disaster and dishes are still in the sink from a couple of days ago. Laundry is strewn all across the living room floor, from when you started folding it – yesterday. You forgot to sign your son’s parental permission slip for the field trip today, and he went to school in tears because his favorite pair of pants are still dirty.
Bills need to get paid and the phone never stops ringing.
And all you want to do is crawl under a rock and die.
This is what depression looks like as a mom.
You have no energy or desire to tackle any of it.
All of the other moms are busy making cookies, attending PTA, and watching their kids play ball. They lead Girl Scout troops and smother social media with their perfect little lives.
You call it a good day when you can get your kids out the door properly dressed and bathed.
And then you spend the rest of the day wondering why you can’t get your crap together.
But depression is actually quite common amongst moms. Sadly, most women just don’t see it. In fact, less than half of the moms who experience clinical depression will ever seek help for it.
One in eight women experience depression, and it is far more common for women who do experience depression to have it during their childbearing years, according to Mental Health America.
And it’s no wonder, with the extreme stress of parenting, managing careers, and the household. Our bodies go through crazy hormonal changes and we desperately lack sleep during our mothering years.
It’s enough for any mom to lose it from time to time.
Without the proper coping skills, a mom can easily find herself sliding into a depression, without even realizing she was there.
The Symptoms of Depression – and How They Hurt Your Parenting
Depression sucks the life right out of you. Normally, that role is reserved for your kiddos. 😉 So if your children require everything you’ve got, but you’ve got nothing left to give, what do you do?
When I was working as a social worker, it often struck me how hard it must be to be a mom and battle depression every day. I know I am a horrible mom when I’m in a bad mood or worried about something. I don’t feel like playing with the kids, doing the housework or making supper.
In fact, I often wish the kids would leave me alone when I’m in moods like that.
But of course, they don’t.
So I can’t imagine how hard it must be to parent through depression. It takes a lot of energy for me to pull myself out of a funk like that. And when you are depressed, energy is a scarce commodity.
It would be so hard to carry on those every-day tasks as a mom if you are battling depression as well.
Insomnia and Fatigue
Exhaustion is common as a parent.
Exhaustion is common with depression.
But moms with depression have to parent small children with a lack of sleep and with fatigue caused by their depression.
I had twin infant boys and their two-year-old brother to care for just four years ago. And they never slept – not a one. I have a pretty good idea of the toll exhaustion can have on a woman’s body and mind.
There is a reason sleep deprivation is a form of torture.
Insomnia and fatigue from depression are real. Better Health defines fatigue as “a feeling of constant tiredness or weakness and can be physical, mental or a combination of both.” Fatigue causes chronic tiredness, physical pain, such as muscle aches and headaches, and irritability. Other common symptoms are low motivation and impaired judgment.
Being able to make good, quick decisions and keeping your emotions under check are two very crucial skills you need as a parent.
And depression steals them from you.
Sad or Empty Feelings, Guilt, Worthlessness, and Helplessness
It is really hard to play with your children, listen to their whimsical conversations, and care about anything going on in their world if you are depressed.
If you have depression, your body has trouble producing those fancy little ‘feel good’ hormones called endorphins. A lack of endorphins will, according to Health Line, cause depression, anxiety, moodiness, aches and pains, trouble sleeping, addiction, and impulsive behavior.
With depression, it’s really hard to care about anything, including your children.
And it’s not something you can just ‘put your big girl pants on’ and muster through. It’s often been described as a chemical imbalance – you need more endorphins or serotonin.
(The accurateness of this is still being researched; see https://www.healthline.com/health/chemical-imbalance-in-the-brain#causes. But depression has been historically thought of as a chemical imbalance.)
Being emotionally responsive to your child is something you need to be able to do, as a mom.
And depression steels that from you.
High levels of energy, emotional control, loaded with plenty of patience, and the ability to make quick, good decisions are all vital parts of parenting.
And these necessary components are lacking in moms with depression.
How to Combat Depression and Still Manage to Be a Mom to Your Children
The things you must do to beat depression require a lot of energy and intentional action on your part. And the desire to do them is not always there. But yet, you somehow have to dig deep within yourself and do them anyways.
Creating a plan and then deliberately creating a habitual routine that you can move through, day in and day out, even when your body does not feel like it, can help.
Much like putting your body on autopilot while your brain is otherwise occupied.
I think it is easiest to break down the steps to managing your depression into three categories: prevention, in an episode, and in crisis.
I think it is also beneficial to remember that there are varying degrees of depression, such as situational depression, in which the depression was triggered by stress or a life event, and chemical depression, in which the onset was triggered by a chemical imbalance in your brain.
Some depression will be temporary, some will be chronic, and some will be severe. So your preventive plan or crisis plan may vary from another mom’s, based on your specific type of depression.
Also, you are going to find some of the following ideas completely doable, and then there will be some that you will look at and say ‘as if!’ And that is okay.
Choose the ones that you think will benefit you the most.
Next up: Activities You Can Incorporate Into Your Day-to-Day Routine to Help Prevent a Depressive Episode
Subscribe to the Newsletter for weekly letters sent right to your inbox to help you stay inspired all week long.
To manage depression it is recommended that you begin by speaking to a healthcare professional.
About Shannon Lambert
Shannon Lambert is a freelance writer living in Northern Minnesota. She writes for parenting blogs and nonprofit organizations and has a background in social work and psychology. Check out her free guide for stay-at-home-moms at Making Mommas.
For mental health resources and where to look for help visit our Mental Health Resource Page.
Related: Mom Anxiety when Traveling Alone
If you would like to submit your story please read this post or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
All Mental Health Mom Stories can be found on this page.