Being a single parent is difficult enough without the added weight of battling depression. Depression is a mental health condition that can make the victim feel exhausted, moody, lose their appetite, and much more; making everyday tasks feel like mountains. Keep reading to learn more about who you should talk to and what to say when you’re a single parent and feeling depressed.
While you may have symptoms of depression, you won’t know for sure if you’re afflicted without a proper diagnosis. Sometimes, the things that seem so overwhelming with parenting that you feel depressed are things that every parent goes through. You’re doing these things on your own, so you don’t have the backup or support of a trusted partner, and that in itself can be overwhelming.
Kids don’t come with an instruction manual, and sometimes navigating things like potty training, temper tantrums, or teenage outbursts without any help can drive a mom (or dad) to the edge. It’s important to differentiate when you’re feeling stressed out and when you’re feeling depressed, as high anxiety can also cause mood swings, loss of appetite, and other symptoms you may link with depression.
Talk to other parents to get a feel for what they’re going through as well. You might find that the things you thought were so overwhelming and could only happen to you are the same things other parents experience as well! It’s important to have some kind of support as a single parent during those tough moments when you’re feeling lost.
Another great resource to consider is your own parents. After all, they’ve already done the parenting thing for many years, and are sure to offer some advice and guidance on the situation. When you need to talk to someone, your parents may be your first instinct. You can also turn to other trusted family members, as sometimes parents are too judgy or pushy with their advice.
Don’t be afraid to open up when you’re speaking. Let your parents or family members know you’re feeling overwhelmed and possibly depressed, and that you’re having trouble handling things at the moment. Many single parents feel they’ll be viewed as “unfit” to raise their children if they admit to being depressed, but this isn’t the case. Don’t be afraid to open up and ask for help!
If you’d rather not discuss things with your family, you may want to choose a trusted friend instead. Friends are a great resource because they often know you on a different level than your parents or family members, and will value your privacy when you ask them to keep things low-key. You may even find some common ground with a friend who’s already battled depression as a single parent or just in general. Advice and insight from those who have already experienced depression are usually the best.
You don’t have to feel ashamed for having feelings of depression or sadness. In fact, last year, the World Health Organization reported that over 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression. You’re not alone, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of! You didn’t ask to be depressed; it simply can’t be helped, but it can be treated.
Finding a support group will allow you to openly express your feelings in a safe area among those who are suffering from the same affliction. Depression and single parenting support groups both exist, so you could join one or both and find a great community to help guide you through difficult times.
Mental Health Professionals
The most important person you’ll want to talk to is a mental health professional. Book an appointment with a licensed therapist, psychiatrist, or other mental health experts so you can get a proper diagnosis. You’re at a disadvantage when you’re fighting an unknown enemy, so it’s best to gain some clarity as to what exactly your condition is and to receive treatment for it. You may find that you’re not suffering from depression at all, but rather high anxiety or some other mental health condition.
One of the most common arguments against treatment is, “I don’t want to talk to a stranger about my personal issues.” While this is understandable, the “strangers” in the mental health industry truly care about people just like you who are having difficulty. They’ve spent many years acquiring degrees and licenses to be able to offer guidance and advice to those suffering from depression and other mental health conditions. Some of those professionals have even battled their own mental illnesses.
Whether you choose to confide in a family member or seek a medical diagnosis for your condition, it’s important that you do so as soon as possible. Remember that depression doesn’t necessarily make you an unfit parent, but such a condition, left untreated, could cause serious dysfunction or even harm to your life. Don’t wait to open up, and don’t be afraid to confide in a trusted individual or group.