According to a Gallup analysis of more than 60,000 women in the United States, stay-at-home mom depression is a significant issue.
Are you a SAHM who is struggling with your emotions? It may help, at least the tiniest bit, to know you’re not alone. A Gallop poll found that 28% of stay-at-home moms say they are depressed “a lot of the day.”
“The degree of difficulty of being a stay-at-home parent is evident in a new Gallup analysis of more than 60,000 U.S. women interviewed in 2012. Non-employed women with young children at home are more likely than women with young children at home who are employed for pay to report experiencing sadness and anger a lot of the day “yesterday.” Stay-at-home moms are also much more likely to report having ever been diagnosed with depression than employed moms. Employed moms are about as emotionally well-off as working women who do not have children at home.” (source)
Reasons Stay-at-Home Mom Depression Happens
First, please understand that clinical depression is a very real, truly terrible, painful thing. If you’re experiencing feelings of depression that are ongoing, whether you are a stay-at-home mom or not, please ask for help.
Call your doctor, or visit the “find a therapist” page at Psychology Today to locate help near you.
1. Lack of respect for their time. “Since you’re at home, would you mind letting my dog out, waiting for the cable guy, or picking up my kids after school?”
Moms who are at home with their kids are often asked to do things that others aren’t. They are frequently the go-to person when folks who do for-pay work need help getting things done.
2. There is no clock to punch at the end of the day. All parents, no matter their sex or where they work, never really reach the end of a workday.
Being at a job outside the home doesn’t mean you get to punch out at 5 PM and kick up your feet until bedtime. You’re still hardcore parenting after work.
Stay-at-home mom depression can happen, in part, because there is no demarcation line between one part of the day and the next. They aren’t getting off work. There is no drive home. They aren’t walking in the door and changing clothes. Their day might the same from morning until night.
3. They feel guilty because this is what they wanted. Lots of stay-at-home moms feel they have no right to complain about how hard it is because some people remind them that they have exactly what they wanted.
4. Stay-at-home moms are exhausted. If we all had to go to a job that lasted from sunrise to hours after sunset, and it never stopped, the burnout and fatigue would grind the world to a halt.
Even worse, imagine being told that people can’t understand why you’re so tired. You just sit at home all day, right?
5. The anger and aggravation can be a real problem. Look, we all get angry at our kids and partners. We’re humans. Depression may show itself as yelling at the kids more than normal or constantly snapping at their partner in parenting.
6. Suffering from a loss of identity is confusing and painful. Are they a mom and only a mom? Are they a woman with likes, desires, and plans of her own? Or a parenting machine whose sole function is to raise children? Before kids, they knew who they were. Now there are days when they may not feel as though they do.
7. Sometimes they crave a little isolation and can’t find it. Lots of moms joke that it would be nice to go to the bathroom without a child intruding. Truth is, it’s not a joke. Stay-at-home moms struggle to find even a few minutes a day that belongs only to them.
8. Maybe they said ‘see you later’ to their career. People around them may not agree with their choice to hit the pause button on a career, and those people don’t mind sharing their unsolicited and unkind opinions.
They still miss the social interactions, challenges of the work, and the ability to grow in their career. Unfortunately, the world is waiting to scream, “I told you so” if they complain.
9. Now housework is a measure of who they are as a woman. We can all pretend that having a neat and tidy house isn’t a big part of what people expect from a stay-at-home mom, but it frequently is. That’s kind of a nutty in 2019, but it’s true.
10. People are frequently, “Yeah, yeah… but what about me?” Somehow society has divided parenting into a “them vs. us” scenario. All parents are tired, and frustrated, and depressed. Stay-at-home moms may worry they don’t have the right to be depressed from being at home all day.
Low-income stay-at-home moms have it especially hard.
“These moms — with annual household incomes of less than $36,000 — are less likely than employed moms at this income level to say they smiled or laughed a lot or experienced happiness or enjoyment “yesterday.” They are also slightly less likely to say they learned something interesting.” (Gallup)
Can we support each other?
“I know stay-at-home moms and I know career moms, but I have yet to see a mom that doesn’t work.” – unknown
To all the parents reading, PLEASE get help if you aren’t feeling like yourself. If you are angrier than usual or if you’re crying in the shower or if you’re waking up and don’t want to get out of bed, get to a doctor. You deserve to feel better and your kids deserve a mom who takes care of herself.
You can’t be all things to all people, but you can and should put yourself at the top of your list of people to care for and love.
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