Stay at Home Moms and the Fight Against Depression: Why Is This Happening?

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Ok. Let me just start off by saying that I’m not a doctor or a therapist.  With that said, I do have five and a half years of experience being a stay at home mom.  I’ve even read some of the recent statistics, but I don’t think it takes a degree for many of us to recognize that the rate of depression among stay at home moms (SAHMs) can be quite high.  After all, many of us reading this are SAHMs.  Once you stop and think about it, should we really be surprised?

Yes, having a child and being privileged to stay at home with them is supposed to be a wonderful time in our lives.  I LOVE my children and my job of being their mom. Danny and I frequently talk about how we don’t even remember life without the munchkins. However, there are a lot of parents who will attest to the fact that raising a little human being is physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing. Here are a few of the many reasons why we may frequently experience feelings of depression:

BABY ON BOARD 

For the mother, you have already spent 9 months or longer carrying a baby.  Your body is going through so many changes and they all tend to take a toll on you.  Even after delivery, hormones and other physical changes begin to add up and can cause an array of emotional shifts for years! This is really a whole other blog post in and of itself. On another note, it is also a good idea to talk to your doctor about how you are feeling.  They may be able to help determine if what you are experiencing is a more serious form of depression, such as postpartum depression.  If so, you are not alone. This too affects many women after giving birth.

24/7 365

That sweet baby has finally arrived, but guess what… you will be in demand around the clock.  If you are the type of person who craves alone time to refuel and rejuvenate, so to speak,  this will be quite challenging. There are no more lunch breaks, sick time, or vacation time. If I may be fully transparent, let me also add that chances are, you will rarely even get to go to the bathroom alone. Before becoming a SAHM, I worked with the public in the banking industry.  I remember the high demands and stressful days. I remember the feeling of great responsibility. But, nothing, and I mean N-O-T-H-I-N-G, compared to taking care of another person around the clock every single day and night. At least, that was my experience. Without you, that baby won’t survive.  Talk about pressure.

SLEEP DEPRIVATION & Depression

With that said, unless you are among the smaller percentage of parents who end up with an awesome sleeper, (they may be rare, but they really do exist) you will be extremely sleep deprived. I thought it was rough when it took our son 9 months to start sleeping through the night. HA! Here we are at 18 months and our daughter still isn’t sleeping through.  Every now and then she has surprised us. But it was nothing more than a cruel tease.  I will say though, she has another underlying condition that complicates matters and I was warned that it could take a couple of years or longer for children with eczema and other allergies to consistently get a full nights sleep. This too is a topic that I will be discuss in another post.

FEELING LONELY

Yes, being a stay at home mom does not mean you have to literally stay home 24/7.  But even so, it can still feel isolating at times. Crazy right? You’re never ever alone, but you can still feel lonely.  While I did try to get out as much as possible, especially when I only had just one child and it was a little easier to get around, I realized that being with a child all day does in fact take its toll. Many of us for one reason or another begin to break down from the sheer monotony of the long work days.  I desperately craved mentally stimulating conversations and more adult interaction.  My poor hubby… there have been many days I’m sure he felt overwhelmed as I talked his ear off from the moment he walked in that door! Then again, who am I kidding… I used to do that to him even before kids.

WHO AM I?

We forget who we are. Yes, you are a mother/father, wife/husband. But what about the things that brought you joy before becoming a stay at home parent? So many of us tend to put everything on the back burner and forget about them. We end up losing a piece of our identity. Honestly, let’s face it…you will have to make sacrifices. The good news is, the sacrifices you make are also 100% worth it. At the same time though, you don’t need to just completely forget who YOU are.  There is so much going on when we are taking care of our families. We are so caught up in making sure that everyone else has their needs met that we fail to worry about our own as much.  I’m not saying that we need to be overly selfish with our time and energy. I’m just saying that many of us (yes, yes, yes… I must take my own advice) HAVE TO find a little bit of time to take for ourselves so that we remember who we really are and be refreshed in order to continue to care for our loved ones with joy.

What Now?

So… now what?  Are we stay at home parents doomed to somehow “lovingly”care for our families while muddling through feelings of resentment, hopelessness, and guilt? Fortunately, the answer can be no.  In the following post, Stay at Home Moms and the Fight Against Depression: How Can I Cope, I’ll discuss 5 coping mechanisms for stay at home mothers.



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16 thoughts on “Stay at Home Moms and the Fight Against Depression: Why Is This Happening?

  1. Angela says:

    It’s so important to talk about this topic in order to raise awareness of it! These factors were all relevant to me when I experienced the postpartum blues. Another factor for me was body image. I had always struggled with body image, but then a few months after my baby, I really began to hate the way I looked. Not only did I want the baby weight to go away faster, but I also felt like my face had aged so much since having the baby. I am slowly starting to feel better about it, but it will take some time. Thanks for sharing these thoughts!

    • Ashley says:

      Thank you so much for sharing. I felt the same way about body image. The actual weight began coming off…but my body itself changed and I carried the weight in places I wished I wouldn’t (such as my belly and waistline.) Loose abdominal muscles didn’t help too I’m sure. I was so confused. I must say, it also helped having a supportive spouse has helped a great deal. You’re right though…it takes time.

  2. Yasmine Robles says:

    I love that you’re talking about this openly and honestly. It needs to be talked about so that women don’t feel trapped and others can recognize their partners/relatives/friends going through it.

  3. Mehreen says:

    I’m a momma who went through all that. Thank you for sharing and I hope moms to be can benefit from this.

    • Ashley says:

      Oh, I hate that you had to experience those things, but I hope it helps knowing you weren’t alone. It helped me. Thank you so much!

    • Ashley says:

      Thank you. I hope it continues to get attention. Some women have no idea that what they are experiencing is normal.

  4. Erika says:

    Although I’m not a mother myself, it’s important for me to be aware of these things so that I can be supportive and understanding of my family and friends.
    Thank you

  5. Nay says:

    Omg this was an awesome article! I love how you said it’s 24/7/365. I am the time who recharges with alone time so that definitely is an adjustment. I would say the hardest part really that affects my mental health is the sleep deprivation. Wow talk about Jekyll and Hyde. Really appreciate you putting awareness out there and the whole identity crisis of who am I. I look forward to reading your article on coping and friendships. Really great content.

    • Ashley says:

      Thank you! Sleep deprivation is sooooo hard. You’re right. There are days I do feel like Jekyll and Hyde! I’m just now beginning to find bits and pieces of the old me. Writing this blog has helped. I hope it can continue to help other mothers out there.

  6. Casey says:

    So, so true! Like a previous poster, I have had the most difficulty with how I feel about my body post baby. Although my “weight” fell right off, I still hated the way I looked in some of my favorite pieces. I’ve also found that it’s so much easier to pick up weight post baby.
    The old me seems like a distant memory most days, but what helps is embracing the new me; I’m someone’s mama! I must say this is the best me yet.
    Let’s hang in there, mamas. We were built for this!
    Thanks for another great post, Ashley!

    • Ashley says:

      I can relate to that. I recently had a check up. The nurse said I weigh the same as I did the previous year. The difference is not so much the weight, but my body shape has changed. I’m a little wider in certain areas, and gravity tends to hit a little harder if you know what I mean. I just carry the weight I do have differently than before. Our families still love us and probably wouldn’t have us any other way. Props to you for embracing your new self! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Sandra says:

    You are very right about everything. It can be lonely even though you are rarely ever alone and so true about the sleep deprivation. I felt this way for a little right after my baby was born, but then I decided to make time for the things I like doing, like cooking, working out and working on my blog. It is hard but I manage to still do it all in my day. It is challenging and not so easy but it definitely has made me happier!

    • Ashley says:

      I’m so glad you did all of those things. Good for you! It’s very important to make time for things we enjoy. I’m learning that myself. 🙂

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