The effects that a parent’s depression has on a child lasts a lifetime when left un-addressed. Identify your depression to treat its symptoms and reduce the negative impact it is having on your children.
If you suffer from depression and you are thinking about having children, or you already have children, you need to read this information.
First of all, did either of your parents live with the symptoms of depression, or were either of them every diagnosed with depression? If so, you, as their child, are more susceptible to depression yourself. Along with that, the child of a depressed parent can develop a negative temperament, less successful social skills, lower self-worth, and a lowered ability to handle stress effectively.
If the pattern is not broken, you will passing down the same effects onto your children. The good news is that depression is treatable and you do not have to continue living with the symptoms of the mental illness.
When you can take an honest look at your family of origin and the family you have created on your own, start looking for these signs of depression identified by the Mayo Clinic’s staff:
feelings of sadness or unhappiness
irritability or frustration, even over small matters
loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities
reduced sex drive
insomnia or excessive sleeping
changes in appetite:
depression often causes decreased appetite and weight loss
in some people depression causes increased cravings for food and subsequent weight gain
agitation or restlessness
examples: pacing, hand-wringing or an inability to sit still
irritability or angry outbursts
slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
indecisiveness, distractibility and decreased concentration
fatigue, tiredness and loss of energy
even small tasks may seem to require a lot of effort
feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself when things aren’t going right
trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
frequent thoughts of death, dying or suicide
crying spells for no apparent reason
unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
Although depression shows up differently for everyone, this list can help identify its existence. If you feel depressed, talk with someone who can help so you can break the cycle of depressed parenting so your children do not have to feel the effects of parental depression.