Experiencing Depression When a Parent
Just like anxiety, which we’ve spoken about before, low mood is a natural part of life. It can be a useful guide to warning us when something our life doesn’t feel quite right, or isn’t quite in sync, and it can help us in shifting things up so we feel brighter and more comfortable.
Since everybody’s life has been turned upside down by the Covid-19 crisis, you are not alone if you are feeling overwhelmed and down.
The problem comes when our low mood persists, and our motivation is also low, so self-help and self-care strategies seem like they’re just not achievable. If your low mood has continued for more than a couple of weeks it is time to pay attention.
In those circumstances, if the depression is relatively mild, it can be useful to have a set of low-level, small changes that we can make to our lives, to make the day a little easier, and give ourselves a bit of a foundation for a better day.
Speak To Someone You Trust
It sounds so challenging sometimes, to try and explain to someone else how we’re feeling. We feel like we don’t have the words, and often feel like no one else will understand. The thing is – no one will know exactly your experience of life. But there will be lots of people who care about you, and want to support you if you’re having a rough time. We’re often told to ‘put on a brave face’ or ‘smile through it’; sometimes, you just need to be honest and say, ‘I’m having a rough time at the moment and I don’t really know how to fix it’. And then just ask them to listen.
Think about the most depressing day ever…
…and then reverse it. When you’re feeling at your most low, what do you do? Keep the curtains closed, not bother with your shower, stay in your room all day, curled up in bed, avoiding people and the world, and keeping your face down? Think of the behaviour you use most often when you’re feeling depressed… and then reverse it. Open the curtains, take a shower and head downstairs to have some breakfast. Make plans to see good friends over Zoom or even seek out your family in the living room. Listen to your happiest music. Whilst your heart might not be in it, committing to positive behaviours can be a really useful way to ‘fake it until you make it’.
Choose supportive company
When you’re feeling low, it’s a really good idea to seek out your kindest, friendliest, most supportive friends and family – the ones who make you feel good about being you. Life is hard enough at the moment, so make it easier by choosing to spend time, albeit via internet technologies like Zoom, with people who don’t pull you down. And, whilst we’re at it, be a good friend to yourself too.
Avoid alcohol or drugs
When we’re feeling low, it can be tempting to manufacture a high using alcohol or substances. But what goes up must come down, and the crash is often harder than the original low. If you think this is an issue for you, be honest and talk to your doctor.
If the Depression Is more Severe
If the depression hasn’t lifted even after a couple of weeks of taking these self-care measures then you need to consider calling your doctor and asking for help. He or she may be able to prescribe drugs to alleviate your mood, and also may be able to recommend you to special counselling.
Tackling Your Depression Will Help Your Child
Children and teens learn by modelling your behaviour, and if they see you recognising your own anxiety and depression, and acting on it, that will help them to take action if they are ever affected by it.
If you have been affected by anything in this article please contact:
In the US:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
National Hopeline Network 1-800-784-2433)
In the UK
The Samaritans 116 123
Childline 0800 1111