6 Ways to Cope With Stay-at-Home Mom Depression

Raising kids is a full-time job, and as a mom you experience the full spectrum of emotions, including happiness, joy, anger, sadness, frustration, overwhelm, etc. A new study came out highlighting the connection between stay-at-home moms and depression. It seems the mental challenges can be exacerbated by isolation and the underestimated amount of what changes when you’re a stay-at-home mom. Here’s what the study showed, and 6 ways to cope with stay-at-home mom depression.

Study reveals stay-at-home moms more depressed than working moms

According to a Gallup analysis of more than 60,000 U.S. women between the ages of 18 and 64 conducted in 2012, 28 percent of stay-at-home moms (SAHMs) reported experiencing depression-like symptoms during the day, compared with only 17 percent of employed moms. And 26 percent of SAHMs said they experienced depression vs. 16 percent for working moms. The figures pointed to low-grade worry as a common symptom for SAHMs too. More than 40 percent of the at-home moms reported they worried on a regular basis, while just 16 percent of working moms experienced worry. Since the study came out, more and more media outlets, including bloggers and advocates, have begun to address the “elephant in the room.”


Reasons why stay-at-home moms are more depressed

When a woman has a baby or adopts one, it fulfills a highly-sought after dream she has had of becoming a mother. So why are stay-at-home moms more depressed? For one, having a child brings a number of changes that mothers may not be prepared for, including their status, friends, income and the life she once knew. The loss of identity can be very jarring for new moms. Another reason has to do with a lack of appreciation or accomplishment. Many times a stay-at-home mom is criticized for what she’s accomplished in a day, even though the reality is that she’s busy non-stop keeping all of the family systems running, in addition to taking care of a baby. Consider this, a stay-at-home mom works 365 days a year without sick time, vacation or paid time off. The third reason SAHMs may experience more negative emotions is because of isolation. Often times, they spend their whole days with little-to-no interaction with other adults. And since her life revolves around being a mom, she has to work that much harder at building relationships outside of her role. If left alone, social isolation is a very real symptom that can lead to sadness and frustration.


Ways to cope with stay-at-home mom depression

While the struggle can be very real for stay-at-home moms, combating the negative feelings is half the battle. For starters, talk to your doctor about the way you’re feeling as she may have suggestions that are more effective than these tips. And although these ideas can help lighten the load, depression can be a significant mental challenge that needs to be taken seriously. Since every little bit helps, here are 6 ways to cope with stay-at-home mom depression.

Feeling overwhelmed? Try exercise. It seems preposterous that if you’re struggling with overwhelm we would suggest another to-do, but the benefits of regular exercise can be monumental for mental health. Even 20 minutes of regular movement can do wonders for your mind and body.

Going stir crazy inside? Move outdoors. Break out of your laundry, dishes, cleaning, diaper change, repeat cycle and get outside. Try to spend a little bit of time each day outside. Take the baby for a walk (and accomplish two goals at once!), or mosey around the yard for a little bit taking in the sunshine and fresh air.

No sense of accomplishment? Get involved outside of the home. Find activities that give you a sense of accomplishment and joy outside of home. Is there a local group you can join? Are there volunteer opportunities nearby? Redefine your sense of accomplishment and find joy in other things besides momming.

Lonely and bored? Plan a grown-up gathering. Identify activities you enjoy doing and consider planning a get together with like-minded moms. It could be a book club that includes wine and topics unrelated to parenting. There’s something so rewarding about bonding with fellow moms who just “get it.”

Questioning your parenting skills? Create a go-to mom network. It could be as simple as a text thread or as involved as an online group, but having a go-to mom or parenting network can really help you feel not quite as alone. Toss around group think questions and ideas for solving basic issues. There’s no one right way to parent, and having a network can ease frustrations and overwhelm.

Lacking self-love and compassion? Celebrate yourself. They don’t tell you this at the hospital but being a mom is a really fricking hard job to do! Whether it’s setting aside time for yourself to tackle a passion project, a regular monthly pampering session, spicing up your routine or indulging in wine with girlfriends, celebrating yourself and all that you accomplish as a mom AND individual is key. Keep taking that time for yourself until you are you again. Consider taking a momcation and you’ll thank yourself later!

Keep the big picture in mind

If you’re adding the “perfect parent” ideal to your overwhelming to-do list, stop it right this minute. There’s no right or wrong way to parent, and if you’re doing your best that’s all that matters. A lot of women truly enjoy being a stay-at-home mom and wouldn’t trade it for the world. You won’t miss out on the milestones and big moments your babies experience as they’re growing. What could be more fulfilling than that? The next time you feel frustration building up, remember this: you have the hardest job in the world and you’re doing great. You got this, mama!

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