Most people have heard the term postpartum depression and anxiety, which describes the temporary, but awful feelings of dread and despair that descend upon some women after giving birth. However, a new study, published in the Journal of “Developmental Psychology,” suggests that feelings of depression may be highest for moms of middle school aged children.
This study found that, among the 2247 women surveyed, many felt, “lonely, empty and dissatisfied with their mothering roles. The researchers also found that compared to mothers of infants, these women experience the lowest levels of maternal happiness and are even more stressed out than new parents.”
The reason for this new level of dissatisfaction is attributed to 1) hormones – in both preteens and premenopausal women, and 2) a growing psychological and emotional distance between mother and child.
Keep in mind: 1) this is only one study, and 2) it’s quite possible that these women simply forgot how hard the first year of parenting was! Yes, there are new challenges that arise when you have to trust that your child will survive in the world without your constant supervision, but do these moms remember what is was like to be unable to shower for days on end? We aren’t so sure. Researchers have shown changes in the brains of new mothers that are akin to falling in love. Couldn’t these changes come with some benevolent memory loss?
Still, maybe we are pitting oranges against apples. Regardless of which time in a mom’s life is actually harder, the point is that postpartum depression and anxiety can affect a person for much longer than just the first year of a child’s life.
So, what can you do if you are feeling depressed and disconnected from your child?
Know That You Are Not Alone
Studies suggest that 1 in 8 women in the United States, many of whom are mothers, will experience clinical depression at some point in their lives. This translates to about 12 million American women. You are in good company!
Understand Your Child’s Developmental Stage
At different times in your child’s life, varying behaviors, although possibly irritating, may also be completely normal. Let’s take the middle school years that we discussed above. Even though you might be feeling distraught because your child is distancing from you, this is exactly what she needs to do for her own development. We might even worry if she wasn’t giving you some side-eyed-glances here and there. She needs to do this in order to develop her own sense of self, separate from you, and, unfortunately, it’s easier for preteens to separate with a little bit of sassiness.
Ask For Help
Depression and anxiety are extremely benefited by therapy! Talking to a qualified healthcare professional about your concerns can: 1) give you an outlet for your feelings, and 2) provide you with the necessary tools to work through your symptoms. No one should ever have to face these issues alone!