February 1, 2022
Plenty of new moms hear about “the baby blues” or postpartum depression, but not many openly discuss depression that some stay-at-home moms (SAHMs) face years after giving birth. It’s important to know the signs, what to do, and that help is easily accessible.
CAUSES AND SYMPTOMS
Cheryl Brodnax, a PLCP with Crossroads Professional Services, weighed in on the causes and symptoms of SAHM depression.
“It really isn’t different from other situation-based depression, which means the down emotions are caused by a set of specific circumstances, and not genetics, trauma, or other biological reasons,” says Brodnax. “Studies on this topic show that about 25 percent of SAHMs feel identity loss, lack of purpose, social isolation, overwhelming stress, and lower self-worth since staying at home.”
Just as SAHM depression falls under the umbrella of other types of depression, the symptoms are similar and range from mild to severe.
“The most common warning signs of depression are sadness, lack of motivation or enjoyment, changes in eating and sleeping, chronic headaches or stomach aches, and in severe cases, hopelessness or even suicidal thoughts,” notes Brodnax.
The most important part is to understand these symptoms of depression are not your fault and the feelings you are experiencing do not indicate that you are a bad mother. Like many others, you are doing the best you can, and that’s all your baby needs.
Growing up, you think your mom is a superhero, and when you have a baby of your own, you want to be their superhero, too! This mindset is perpetuated on social media where influencers display the “perfect mom persona.” She looks put together, her home is spotless, and her baby looks like he slept soundly through the night without a single fit. Many moms feel that pressure to be the perfect mother who is in control and knows what to do, no matter the situation at hand.
Ashley Comegys, LCSW is a therapist who specializes in working with moms with anxiety and depression. She believes that SAHMs are under a lot of pressure from outside factors, like social media and the need to be a flawless mother.
“Moms today are carrying a lot on their plate, and the added pressures and comparisons of social media can lead women to feeling like they aren’t measuring up, or that they are “the only one” who doesn’t have it all together. I think many women feel like they are ‘supposed’ to know how to be a mom, and do it all, and that it’s going to be fun because that’s what we THINK we see other moms experiencing,” remarks Comegys.
The first step is to reach out. This can be someone you trust, like family or friends, who can help you curate your support system and provide support at home in the form of babysitting, invites out, or the occasional home-cooked meal. Understand that you are not alone and plenty of other moms have felt or are feeling the same way. Professional help is also easily available to moms who want to seek aid from the comfort of home.
“Working with an online therapist can be an amazing option for stay-at-home moms because they don’t have to worry about driving to appointments or finding childcare. They can do it during nap times or even with a baby on their hip,” shares Comegys.
If you feel ready to reach out to a professional for help, a simple email or short phone call can make all the difference.