Depression hits working moms hard

BlogHer Original Post

The holiday season is in full force - a time that, at least in theory, should be filled with joy and happiness. But what if you find yourself having feelings that are far from those of joy and happiness? Feelings of hopelessness, agitation, guilt and even lifelessness? According to an online survey conducted by Working Mother magazine, you aren't alone. The survey, which included responses from 500 moms, concluded that "an overwhelming 91 percent" of working moms suffered some symptoms of depression.

Suzanne Riss, editor-in-chief of Working Mother called the trend "an epidemic."

While many people are familiar with postpartum depression in the months after giving birth, Riss said, "people don't really think about the fact that a couple of years later a lot of women are experiencing depression." And some even experience it a decade into their children's lives.

The survey was part of an article on Working Mother about working moms and depression and includes personal stories from some moms who have experienced depression, as well as life-altering solutions.

Heather from A Mama's Blog, who works part-time outside the home, recently wrote about her feelings of guilt when she had to miss her son's preschool winter concert.

I have been at my job for fifteen months, and I haven’t missed anything that I felt guilty about in my boys’ lives. But that is going to change this week. Ryan’s preschool is having a winter concert later this week. The kids have been practicing their songs for a few weeks now. I hear Ryan practicing his song, and humming the tune. He sounds so cute singing it, and he is so excited. The school is having the concert at a local church, so it is a very big deal.

Except I can’t go...

I know I shouldn’t be sad- I should be thankful I have a job, and I am, but how do you balance out the grown-up responsibilities that you must fulfill with knowing you will miss your little boy singing about seven little penguins who are cold?

Laurel from Parenting Diva has dealt with depression and shares something I think most moms - working outside the home or not - can relate to, not having enough time for everything:

"I suffered from depression beginning with my pregnancy and I continued to experience it up until my oldest was about a year old. Of course I, like many others, did not go to the doctor concerning it. Perhaps this is why depression isn’t seen as the epidemic that it is.

There was the time factor. Who can take off work and has a babysitter to go to the doctor because you aren’t feeling like yourself and are feeling “down”? Then there is the “stigma” with depression. If you aren’t loving life (especially while & after having this “bundle of joy”) then something definitely must be wrong with you. And lastly, like everything else in life, you figure…eventually it will go away."

Laurel goes on to add:

I figure there are all types of depression & some probably need to be medically diagnosed and treated. But a lot of things we can take care of ourselves if we just stop, listen to our lives and create a plan. Unfortunately, like with myself, it often takes many years of living & learning as women before we wake up and ask ourselves what’s important and what we really should be doing with our lives.

A woman who goes by "Neuromom" made some good points about the results of the survey in her comment on Mommy Trackd:

I agree that depression is a big problem - especially for women and especially for mothers. However, reports like this one should be interpreted in context. First, it is critical to know the percentage of NON-working mothers who are depressed. Otherwise there is no way to assess the effect of working of depression. Second, an online survey isn't a great way to gauge depression rates because the survey responders do not constitute a random sample. The actual percentage of working mothers suffering from depression could be higher or lower- we have no way of knowing.

I think it's safe to say that many mothers - whether they work outside the home, at home, or are stay-at-home moms - are dealing with depression. Hopefully surveys and articles such as the one Working Mother had, combined with more women writing and talking about it, will contribute towards fighting the stigma that often accompanies depression and more women will feel OK talking about it and reaching out for help.

Additional resources:
Postpartum progress by Katherine Stone
Depression Help Center from WebMD
FAQ - Depression During and After Pregnancy from womensHeath.gov

Contributing editor Amy Gates blogs about green living, attachment parenting, activism and photography at Crunchy Domestic Goddess.

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