As many parents know, raising a child is hard work. However, things can be even more difficult if you're a parent with depression.
Here are some common effects of parenting with depression, and some tips to help you overcome your symptoms and be present for your child.
Depression Affects Your View of Your Parenting Skills
When you're depressed, you may think you're a worse parent than you really are. You might feel guilty and criticize yourself.
However, studies have shown that if an individual feels they are being an effective parent, depression symptoms seem to subside. Try to go easy on yourself — it might help break the cycle.
Depression Might Lead to Overbearing Parenting
A depressed parent might feel they are the cause of their child's problems. This distortion can cause parents to set strict limits on their children and become overbearing. When this happens, the child's development and their relationship with the parent can both be affected.
Depression Can Make It Hard to Stay Present
When a parent is depressed, it might be difficult for them to remain attentive to the needs of their child. This can lead to children feeling they need to fend for themselves. Eventually, they might distance themselves from the depressed parent.
If you're experiencing depression as a parent, you're not alone. With the right strategies, you can conquer your fears and be an effective parent.
Seek Professional Help
Asking for help can be daunting. Research has found that the longer your symptoms go untreated, the more likely you'll be to suffer from future episodes of depression. Getting treatment is as essential for depression as it is for diabetes, because moderate to severe depression rarely goes away on its own. Even if you don’t want to seek help or get better for yourself, do it for your kids. Model healthy choices. Remember that acknowledging that you need help and seeking help are signs of strength.
Seek Social Support
Depression can be isolating. However, being separated from the rest of society is bad for both the parent and the child.
Try to find a supportive group of people who can lift you up and help with your symptoms. Whether it's a religious group, a sports team, or family, make sure to connect with others.
Spend Your Best Time With Your Children
Depression symptoms often come in waves and cycles. When you're feeling bright and positive, spend that time with your children. Find time to do small things together when you are feeling your best. A 10-minute board game, a favorite snack, or a quick walk outside can help you both feel connected.
Just because you're a parent doesn't mean you should neglect yourself. Make time to exercise, relax, and practice your passions. Try your best to stay balanced. You can't be there for your child if you're not there for yourself.