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  1. #1
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    Motherhood and Depression

    Motherhood and Depression
    By Erika Krull, PsychCentral
    March 2, 2009

    Let me first say that I?m glad that many many mothers around the world can go about the challenging and rewarding job of parenting without experiencing mental illness. Clearly the majority of mothers can weather the storms without having their boat completely capsize. But the reality is that a modest percentage of mothers do experience depression, excessive anxiety, and other mental illnesses.

    As a mother who?s had postpartum depression and premenstrual dysphoric disorder, I don?t have a grudge against the moms who have stayed healthy. Not that they would have all sunshine and lollipops every day as a mom either. Motherhood can be tough no matter how resilient you are. In fact, I thought I was being exposed to how difficult it really was ? the truth behind the facade of constant happiness.

    Of course, I know that isn?t true now. Motherhood is challenging but humans are certainly capable of bouncing back from difficulty and renewing themselves. So what could make a woman vulnerable to mental illness as a mother? Well there could be many answers to that. Genetics, social environment, really bad luck, other stressors at the time of motherhood. It is often the perfect storm of some of these characteristics affecting a woman?s ability to be a mother.

    Gender expectations and gender differences seem to create disadvantages for mothers, especially if there are genetic factors or other problems at work. A woman?s brain is wired with so many more connections in the areas of communication and emotion. This makes women more sensitive to all kinds of subtleties in these areas.

    These allow moms to be closely attuned to the minutia of her children?s moods, needs, schedules, conflicts, etc. Moms can be responsive to issues dads might not be aware of. Nothing against dads, but it seems that moms are often tuned to a different frequency than dads are.

    However, this high capability with emotions and communications can backfire when the system is overloaded or impaired. I think of Superman floating above earth, holding his ears shut because his sharp hearing ability is overwhelmed at times. Moms with a mental illness are already overloaded with their own emotional imbalance. Depression makes them feel desperate and lonely. Anxiety creates constant rumination and obsessive worry. A personality disorder may make normal kid struggles seem like personal attacks.

    When a mother isn?t healthy enough to give of herself, she mostly does what she can to protect herself. And this often means that somewhere, somehow, the kids will lose out on having a mom when they need one. Some moms with mental illness give every last ounce to their kids to make things seem as normal as possible, while they run themselves dry on the inside.

    This taps in to the gender difference and social expectation that women are caregivers, geared toward making everything pleasing to others, and sensitive to others? needs. While this is generally true, a depressed mother giving everything out will eventually backfire. There will be no more to give because her ?bucket? has a big gaping hole in the bottom.

    Other moms may feel overwhelmed by affection and interaction, doing the minimum amount they need to for their kids and keeping their distance. It?s not that they wouldn?t know that kids need more, but they simply can?t do it. It makes the mom feel worse to engage and touch than to back off. She conserves herself to ?fight another day? by limiting herself each day. Of course, this means that the kids are missing out on emotional connection, teaching moments, social interactions, and so on.

    Moms today are vulnerable in so many ways. With so many opportunities and freedoms, women can choose a lot of life paths including motherhood. But when genetic factors, relationship stressors, and other situations collide with motherhood, everyone can lose. It?s my hope that as we keep exposing this issue, more women will feel comfortable to reach out when they are in this terrible spot. And those surrounding a mother in so much pain will have the courage to speak up for them, reach out a hand and get them the help they cannot manage to ask for.

  2. #2
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    Re: Motherhood and Depression

    this article touches home in that as a mother who did not have any nurturing i did the opposite to my child and gave her everything i had i didn't want her to feel like i did now it seems what i did was wrong the Dr say my daughter and i are enmeshed and now at the age of 20 both my daughter and i are having enormous troubles getting along as i have panic attacks every time she leaves and she just wants Independence but hasn't go skills needed to do so. i thought i was going to be the best mother in the world i thought my child wouldn't suffer for anything and now it seems i have did more damage without even knowing i was doing it stress yes very much so and it seems that this stress never ends even when a child grows

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    Re: Motherhood and Depression

    Hi Mary ,
    You did the best you knew how to , there are no perfect mothers , you gave love to your daughter and that is the most important gift of all .

    Have you discussed this with your T ? Your daughter has time to learn the skills of autonomy , and you will learn how to let go more and more as time goes by , it is perfectly normal for children to reject their parents, however much their parents were caring and nurturing , it is healthy and neccessary

    children who never reject their parents at some point are the ones we should worry about ..

    As a mother you will always worry about your child , but as she becomes more independant you will learn not to show your worry .

    I would talk to your T about this when you see him on the 9th
    best wishes wp

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    Re: Motherhood and Depression

    my T is very aware of my separation anxiety with my daughter is was the original reason i went to see him after what she did ending up in ICU twice on vent i am even more anxious when she leaves me i don't know how they can say i harmed her when all i did was try to protect her from the evil in this world i failed at that she was harmed anyway after all my overprotection i failed a lot of people but she is home for now and hopefully when the time comes they want her to go to Toronto hospital for assessment i will be able let her go that is just another issue i have to decide do i support this decision or keep her home safe with me i really don't trust anyone and god Toronto if she runs ill never find her god what to do just rambling on mind won't shut down thanks for support Mary

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    Re: Motherhood and Depression

    Hi Mary,

    What is it about the separation that scares you so much Mary? Are you worried about her or, are you worried for yourself?

    Do you think that keeping her home from this assessment will help her? Or, do you think this assessment will harm her? What if this assessment helps her get better?

    thinking of you Mary.

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    Re: Motherhood and Depression

    Hi Jazzey my concerns are for my daughter because her history is she runs when she is upset or when she becomes psychotic she runs and she overdoses she has been found in bars with 67 year old men 35 yr old men she turns into someone i don't know and she gets harmed by them it makes me sick i can't keep her safe if she is in Toronto and the Dr says she is voluntary so she may run and i won't find her.

    the whole street is bars where the hospital is the university is on that street as well she becomes psychotic and Heather turns into someone else and that person doesn't care who she hurts and yes my anxiety go over the roof i can't breath when she leaves me i have terrible nightmares of her on ventilator they won't keep her safe. i also won't be able to see her everyday yes the Dr there and the program there would benefit her immensely but will they keep her safe no one can guarantee this the bottom line she is 20 and all i can do is convince her to either stay home with me where i will keep her safe or go and get help from someone who will regulate her meds and diagnose her properly god why Toronto i hate using the train i hate going on the 401 highway i won't be able to reach her

    i am frighten for her safety and i know i will literally fall apart not having her near me what am i to do she can't do this to me anymore i can't deal with anymore attempts on her own life i can't deal with the stress do you understand she is a part of me she is me and all i do is have panic attacks when she is gone. i don't trust her anymore i can't i love her but she has hurt me too much i can't trust her or anyone to take care of her they all failed her her psych doctor let her run instead of keeping her on form and she almost died twice what am i to do who am i to trust sorry Jazzey confused over a lot these days trying to keep sane thats all Mary

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    Re: Motherhood and Depression

    I understand your fears and your confusion about all of this Mary. It's a lot to bear.

    But you know that your daughter needs that help. While I know that you want to protect her, keeping her home and under your care won't help her Mary. I think that's part of the confusion you're feeling - you know she needs that assessment....Your daughter is 20 years old. Part of growing up is learning to take care of ourselves. You can't always protect her Mary - but allow her to get the tools she needs to protect herself...

    Mary, am I right in thinking that you have an upcoming therapy session? I think it's really important that you talk to your psychologist about your feelings on this. He will be able to give you some insight on how to look at this situation, in a way where you don't harm yourself...While your daughter is receiving the help she needs, you also need to focus on getting the therapy that you need. If she stays home, this may have an adverse affect on both of your well-being...

    Much support to you Mary.

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    Re: Motherhood and Depression

    Mary,

    I definitely agree with what Jazzey said about talking to your psychologist about the assessment for your daughter. I didn't realize that she was 20 years old which technically she is an adult.

    Although you think that she may run, you have to hope in your heart that she doesn't and that she gets the assessment done. I think the fears that you have are very valid however I am sure if you ask her, she has many fears of her own.

    Take care Mary

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    Re: Motherhood and Depression

    i have a lot to talk to T about Jazzey i have mentioned this to him his feelings are to let her go because if i don't she won't ever get her own wings i am just so afraid words can't explain the feeling i get when she is gone. o god i am so afraid she will do it again i have to trust someone and i am starting to trust my T why is everything so difficult why i am trying to listen i am trying to stay well i just feel overwhelmed with everything cipralex i want to take it may help me fear fear fear alway fear i am a nurse dam it i should be able to do this on my own thanks Jazzey will try to do whats right for her Mary

  10. #10
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    Re: Motherhood and Depression

    Don't be hard on yourself Mary. While you are a nurse, many of us lean on others to get the support we need...And yes, the cipralex will help Mary. I'm on an anti-depressant which is comparable. It's helped me be able to take a few steps back from that overwhelmed feeling and see things a little more clearly.

    One day at a time Mary. You've done so well for yourself. These things take time...baby steps every day.

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