Skip to comments.Why Depressed Moms Often Depress Their Kids, And How To Stop The Cycle
Posted on 05/04/2020 6:22:17 AM PDT by Kaslin
Carrying the weight of a parents unhappiness is a heavy burden for a child. It makes sense that children prone to self-blame would develop anxiety from their mother's depression.
Weve all heard the saying, If moms unhappy, everyones unhappy. I think its a little unfair to moms, but its meant as a playful way of saying what most of us have experienced at some point: Moms set the mood for the family. If mom is unhappy, the whole family feels it. Mothers wield tremendous influence in the home, and for most families this isnt a problem.
Moms can have ups and downs, which doesnt seriously interfere with a childs healthy attachment or development. Yet the same isnt necessarily true for the children of mothers who suffer from depression. Moms with a history of depression may leave their kids a legacy of depression.
A recent study in the Journal of Family Psychology found that self-blame plays an important role in the link between a mothers depressive symptoms and similar symptoms in her children. Chrystyna D. Kouros, one of the authors of the study and an associate professor of psychology at Southern Methodist University, says, Children of depressed mothers are 2-3 times more likely to develop depressive symptoms themselves.
A key factor in why this happens might have to do with a childs tendency to assume blame. Children who consider themselves at fault whenever their mother is unhappy or angry are at greater risk for relational issues, victimization, and self-harm. These children are likely to believe theyre the cause of their mothers unhappiness even if theyve never been told so openly.
Kids are masters at reading a parents mood, and theyll often match it. How many times have we seen our emotions reflected back at us when we snap at our 4-year-old because weve had a bad day and he threw his toy because he’s now distressed? Our kids are mirroring not only our emotions but our physiology. Infants can sense when a mother is stressed and will begin to exhibit physical signs of stress such as an increased heart rate and muscle tension.
Children are constantly taking in information about their environment and adjusting accordingly. When kids are young, they might be anxious or fearful when they sense a parent is upset. When they get older and more verbal, they may try to keep the peace by internalizing their problems or assuming the role of cheerleader for the unhappy parent.
Confusion also upsets a child. They know mom is sad a lot, but they dont know why, and no one talks about it. Understandably, a parent may not want to share her deeply painful struggles with kids, but theres a lot of ground between sharing too much and providing helpful, age-appropriate answers. Children who are left to figure out moms mood on their own and believe they’re at fault for her constant unhappiness risk internalizing her sadness and eventually having their own mental health issues.
To help alleviate this, moms struggling with depression may want to consider opening up to their kids perhaps sharing what depression is like and then asking them what its like when mom is sad. Children will invariably have questions mom cant answer, and mom isnt always in a position to answer them. Thats OK.
Maybe she doesnt know why she feels lousy and isnt considering how other people feel because her depression is overwhelming, Maybe if she does try to explain why shes not the mom she wants to be, she ends up spiraling into more self-loathing over her failings.
I want to caution moms against going too far down the I failed as a mother path. It does more harm than good. One, it doesnt serve the mother because its not true. Did mom do things wrong? Yes. Did mom do everything wrong? No.
Second, it puts kids who feel responsible for their mothers depression in the unfair position of having to enthusiastically assure mom she isnt a bad parent, which may conflict with what they feel, in an effort to cheer her up.
Carrying the weight of a parents unhappiness is a heavy burden for a child. It makes sense that children prone to self-blame develop anxiety and depression. Theyre internalizing moms feelings of hopelessness. This isnt the legacy we want to leave with our kids.
The good news for moms with depression is they dont have to be controlled by despair. There is always hope. The vast majority of these moms dearly love their children and certainly dont want to damage them. Even better news is that its never too late for moms to help their children stop internalizing sadness and stress.
Research shows a mothers love has the power to transform a childs emotional development and brain. Children who grew up with nurturing moms had a hippocampus 10 percent larger than that of children who grew up in a non-nurturing home.
This is important because the hippocampus part of the brain is associated with regulating emotions and memory. This tells us love can go a long way for children of depressed mothers. A critical first step, however, must be to get help. Depressed moms should seek a mental health therapist and possibly see their doctor if medication is needed. They can also ensure their kids have someone to talk to.
This confidant doesn’t have to be a professional. It can be a family member or friend. One emotionally supportive, positive adult can make a huge difference for children who are depressed and blame themselves for their moms unhappiness. The more frequently an adult can reassure the child he is’t to blame for his moms feelings, the more opportunities that child will have to believe it. Eventually, the child may learn to replace self-blame with self-love.
Depressed dads don’t?
Such a big topic. The feminists 60 years ago were complaining that women were unhappy because they were isolated in the suburbs, not allowed to go to college and not allowed to have careers. None of that was true. But they presented women as terribly oppressed. And, of course the women were taking uppers and downers to get through their days. The Rolling Stones sang about Mothers little helper.
Just forward to today, women are all miserable and oppressed. Their domestic life isnt happy, their work life isnt happy, and they are all taking Prozac or something similar because they are so depressed.
My feeling is that a lot of women today are genuinely miserable.
My feeling is that women 60 years ago were mostly quite happy with being housewives.
I think the feminists created a world of unhappy women by spreading a myth that women were unhappy and that feminism would make them happy. All lies.
This is a good book:
Domestic Tranquility: A Brief Against Feminism by Graglia, F. Carolyn. It shows that women had careers, ran businesses, went to college and did all sort of stuff prior to 1960 — if they wanted to do those things. Most of the women preferred to focus on marriage and kids and were happy in that choice. Then society started steering women away from that choice.
...Depressed dads dont?
They just go to work anyway. Safer there /duck
This was the basis of the movie “About a boy” starring Hugh Grant.
One day when we have a better understanding of depression I think we'll find that it's a combination of multiple factors - genetic predisposition, light, diet, life situation, spiritual life, stress, sleep, exercise . . . There have already been a number of genes identified that have a connection to depression. There may be situations where the genetic factors are so strongly stacked toward depression that it is difficult for a person to avoid it. In other cases, a person seems resilient to nearly all of what life throws at them while remaining mentally healthy. Most of us are somewhere in between. Most of the time we're OK, but if a lot of things hit us at once, we find ourselves sinking and struggling to cope. I think it is a mistake of our times that we tend to view depression as a strictly medical problem. It has physical aspects, but if all we do is prescribe pills for it, we neglect the development of coping skills. Building life skills and an ability to recognize which stressors (and therapies) most affect an individual can help many people avoid long-term drug therapy.
The lady in VN whom all her relatives expected to commit suicide sometime shortly is now a well adjusted very middle class in manner mother of two with a very good husband. The problem in VN is that until the last couple of years with the advent of western fashions, females have covered up to hide from the sun because their mothers tell them from birth to never let the sun touch their skin lest they turn black and can never get a husband. M/D in VN is much more common among women than here. That is changing with Western short dresses and short sleeves. They get good suntans and lo! they still find husbands.
There were lots of miserable women 60 years ago. They used alcohol to deal with it. I grew up with it all around me.
I did not mean to imply that the concept of “miserable women” was suddenly invented 60 years ago.
Perhaps women are always miserable. I don’t know.
My point was that Feminists claimed that Feminism would make women less miserable. I see this as a false claim. If anything, I think a strong case can be made that feminism has made men, women and children more miserable.
Mother's Little Helper.
How much D in supplimental form did you recommend?
I don’t think it has made people more miserable. It did however give some people false hope.
I was at a party with an Irish family once, who had a friend there who is a psychologist. The Irish-Americans were talking about whether there is a genetic connection to depression. The psychologist said, about the Irish as a genetic group, "The men drink; the women have depression."
She did not mean that the men's drinking caused the women's depression, but rather that it was both sexes' expression of low serotonin in the brain.
I take 5000 units, one wee gelcap, a day. My brother takes 2000 and has been virus free for eleven years. My problem with the 2000 is that I only find them in big caplets. I like the little gelcaps better. Easier. I don’t get much sunshine because I work at night so I rely wholly on the gelcaps.
5000 units-one elcap.
Thanks so much!!
That’s super! I swear by D3 and my ‘happy light’ during the winter. This time of year, I just get outside. I can feel a difference when we have a string of rainy days.
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