Struggling with Depression Episodes can make even the most simple aspects of life much more strenuous and difficult. Parenting with depression is one of the hardest things you can accomplish because children are impressionable and can pick up on your moods. When kids start to understand that something is wrong they might not know what to do or how to handle it.
Being diagnosed with depression does not mean you can’t be a good parent but it can be more challenging. Kids need their parent to be engaged, energetic and patient; things that can be painful to do when you are dealing with an episode of depression. When your kids want to play you might feel too lethargic, tearful or hopeless to get involved.
Parenting is always difficult for anyone but having depression can be a complicated issue with your kids. When you are too depressed to play with them and are not able to be present and engaged they might react negatively. It is important to learn how to handle your depression as a parent and also explain your situation in a way that children can understand.
Handling Depression Episodes as a Parent
Even though it is rarely discussed, depression in the world of parenting happens to many people. It is possible to have a mental illness and still be the best parent you can be as long as you take steps to care for yourself as your kids grow up. Staying with some type of treatment is especially important for parents with a mental illness like depression.
If you don’t currently have a regular therapist then make sure to start seeing one every week to help you cope with your role as a parent. Your therapist can offer you valuable insight on how to deal with your depression and manage it with children in your life. The better you are able to function with the help of your therapist, the more you will be available to help your kids.
Medication can also be an important tool when you are diagnosed with major depression Therapy is one aspect of improving your moods but if you have a biological condition then taking prescribed antidepressants can be a useful way to prevent your mood changes from becoming too extreme. Talk to a psychiatrist about what medications might be helpful for your particular condition.
It is also a good idea to enlist the help of everyone you can so that you have support and don’t feel you are handling the situation alone. Have your spouse pitch in and spend time with the kids when you are feeling too depressed to play. If you are a single parent then have some friends, neighbors or other family members who you can count on to step in when you need some help.
Talking to Kids about Depression
When kids see their parent spending all day in bed or crying for no clear reason then they might feel scared and worried about you. Some kids might feel rejected or hurt if you aren’t responding to them or say that you can’t play today. It is important to find some way to talk to your children about depression so that they don’t take the situation personally or experience confusion and pain.
Make sure to tailor the conversation to the child’s age group and try to explain what you are going through in a way that they can easily understand. An older child in their teens might understand a little bit about mental illness and you can tell them the symptoms you have and how you deal with them. A younger school age child might not understand the concept of mental health so you can use words like “sad, nervous or worried” to describe how you are feeling.
The important thing is to make sure that your child understands that your situation is not their fault in any way. Children can internalize things and if they know you are sad or worried they might feel that they are to blame. Tell them it is okay to be sad and worried sometimes and that these feelings are normal and even adults have them.
Make sure to let your child know that you are getting help for your condition and are taking steps to make it better. You can tell them that you are going to the doctor and eating healthy so that you’ll feel better. This lets children know that you won’t always feel bad and you can manage the problem.
Telling your children about your depression is a crucial conversation to have. Don’t avoid talking about it because you think that they won’t understand. Children can pick up on things easily and need to have an understanding of what is going on around them.
If you need help handling your depression or someone to talk to about your role as a parent then find a therapist you can see regularly for support.