Depression is a mental health illness that affects a person’s feelings, thoughts, actions, and emotions. In medical terms, depression is officially called “major depressive disorder” or MDD. Anyone—regardless of age, sex, or ethnicity—can get depression. Even parents can get depression, such as postpartum depression (PPD).
Depression in parents is common, especially after giving birth. PPD affects one in seven women who just had birth. It lasts for almost a year. Even one in ten dads experience PPD. Beyond this specific occurrence of depression, around 68% of women and 57% of men with mental health problems are parents.
Whether it is depression after having a child or MDD, depression still requires proper intervention since it may affect child-rearing and growth. In this article, you’ll learn about depression in families and why parents always need to look after their mental health.
What Causes Depression In Families?
There are many causes of depression within the family; anyone can experience it in one form. For example, children can develop depression due to poor parenting, the absence of a parental figure at home, bullying, or parental neglect. Genetics can also be one of the reasons for depression.
Parents can also get depression due to problems at work, financial troubles, personal problems, infidelity of a spouse, the death of a family member, and many more. Raising a child or children is already a huge weight on every parent’s shoulders. Parenting with depression is a whole new level of hard above that. Left untreated, it can worsen and affect a parent’s life until it manifests physically toward their children.
What Parenting Style Is Associated With Depression?
There are four main parenting styles — authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and neglectful. This framework of parenting styles originated from the work of Diana Baumrid in the 1960s. Here’s a quick explainer of each parenting style
- Authoritative: This style is democratic; it involves the child in making decisions, solving problems, and finding answers. The parent establishes an open communication channel with the child to foster trust and encourage participation.
- Authoritarian: This style is disciplinary and somewhat dictatorial to an extent. Authoritarian parents set rules that entail rewards and punishments. The child’s opinions aren’t considered because everything is parent-centered.
- Permissive: This style is indulgent to the child’s needs and wants. Permissive parents rarely enforce rules and punishments and yield to the child’s requests to avoid conflict and problems.
- Neglectful: This style is indifferent toward the child’s needs and wants. Neglectful parents show little concern for their child’s actions and behavior. They don’t reward the child for good deeds and don’t discipline them as well for bad deeds.
A study by the International Journal of Psychological Research found that depression and anxiety are common to authoritarian and neglectful parenting styles. The study didn’t “assess” the parent’s mental health condition but looked at depressive symptoms through the perception of the study’s respondents. Moreover, parents who are authoritative and permissive have lower depressive symptoms.
Knowing how to handle depression while taking care of the kids involves adjusting your parenting style. If you’re overly protective and strict with your children, you may try to loosen up a bit and give your children a space to breathe. Create a communication channel with your children so they’ll be more open to you. By doing this, you can reduce the emotional burden of parenting and build a better relationship with your children.
5 Parenting Characteristics Of Depression
Parenting, while depressed, shows noticeable signs to the children and even the spouse. Going through depression while raising kids can be hard, but immediate intervention can lessen the impact.
Here are five characteristics and signs of depression in parents.
1) Obvious Neglect Of Parental Responsibilities And Obligations
There is obvious neglect of parental responsibilities when the children aren’t receiving minimum care at home. It means that the parents aren’t attending to the household’s basic needs, like the supply of food, children’s hygiene, and daily home maintenance.
Neglect can also manifest through absence, wherein the parent intentionally leaves the house before attending to the needs of the children. If your parents or spouse shows signs of neglect, they may go through depression.
2) Emotional Disconnection With the Children
Depression in parents also manifests through emotional disconnection. This problem arises when a parent doesn’t recognize emotional cues from their children, such as eye contact and gestures.
Depressed parents also don’t recognize their children’s evasive or reactive behaviors and think of it as an act of blatant disrespect.
3) Negative or Abusive Behavior Towards Children
Outbursts and irritability are some of the most common symptoms of depression. Being quick to anger over small things can signify parental depression. It is usual for children to make mistakes, and their parents should teach them how to do it the right way. But if the parent’s usual response is always anger and abusive behavior, there’s something wrong.
4) Changes in Physical Health
Symptoms of depression are intangible, but they affect physical health. There are depressed parents who can’t sleep due to insomnia, while there are others that don’t eat or skip meals. Some depressed people do the opposite, like overeating or overindulging themselves with other things. Regardless of the depression’s path, it will affect overall health, which can lead to sickness.
5) Development of Addiction
Depression while parenting can lead to addiction as an escape. Depressed parents think they’re imprisoned, and addiction is the only way to help them escape this reality. Whether it’s drugs or alcohol, addiction is addiction, and it is a mental illness. Depression is a co-occurring mental health issue with addiction.
Depression in parents is possible since no one is immune to depression. Everyone can be depressed, given the circumstances. Fortunately, depression is treatable. Through developments in mental health research, the world of medicine now has more effective ways and means to alleviate the effect of depression on people until recovery. If you suspect that you or your spouse has signs of depression, speak to a professional for intervention.
Roots Through Recovery offers mental health recovery programs for alcoholism, drug addiction, and other co-occurring disorders. It is located in Long Beach and brings a healing environment through a multidisciplinary team of experts and mental health professionals.
Begin your recovery journey with us. Visit our website or call us now at (562) 249-5022.