Mom's Emotional Health: The Menstrual Years with Tikes and Tweens
Mothering is a tough business full of ups and downs. Couple that with the challenges of marriage or a job, and it’s no wonder that women sometimes feel overwhelmed and depressed. Then, add in fluctuating hormones and… you get the picture!
The good news is that there's nothing as rewarding as being a mom. The bad news? There's nothing as mentally, physically or emotionally challenging as being a mom. The natural hormonal changes of life coupled with the stress—both good and bad—of bringing up children, keeping a home and maybe working a job leave women vulnerable to depression and anxiety.
So how do you know when you’re just taking a ride on the hormonal roller coaster, or when it’s something more serious? Check out your stage below, and see what you can do help your emotional health.
Feeling Like It's All Too Much
For mothers of young children, the relentless needs of little ones can be challenging. Some moms report feeling a little isolated at home all day with the kids, doing the same chores and changing an endless number of diapers. If you've left a career to become a stay-at-home mom to your new family, these feelings may be even stronger.
When it's Something More Serious…
There are brief seasons of melancholy in even the happiest lives, so a few days of the blues are probably nothing to be concerned about. But when symptoms of depression persist for more than a couple of weeks, you may be dealing with something more serious that requires medical attention. Some common symptoms of clinical depression include:
- Restlessness or moodiness
- Crying a lot
- Low energy or motivation
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Eating too much or too little
- Trouble concentrating
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- A desire to withdraw from friends or family
- Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy
The good news is that there are a variety of treatment options today that offer relief from depression. You can improve your overall health and improve your mood by making a conscious effort to do the following:
- Get out of the house. Those feelings of isolation common to young mothers can be overcome by making connections with other moms. Get together with other moms in the neighborhood for play dates, or connect with other women in a bible study or volunteer organization.
- Stay active. Countless studies show a direct link between exercise and a reduction of depression symptoms. So pop that toddler in a jog stroller and break a sweat. Want to maximize your efforts? Take your walk or jog early in the day and expose yourself to the sunlight. Many experts believe the exposure to light also produces positive chemical results in the brain and lead to feelings of well-being.
- Eat well. A balanced diet is essential to good health in every way. Eating right can give you the energy you need and help you avoid feelings of sluggishness and fatigue.
Above all else, remember that your children are only little for a short time. Even if this phase of life feels challenging, it will be over before you know it. Taking good care of yourself physically and emotionally can help you be the best mom for your kids, and help you enjoy what will be gone in the blink of an eye.
For more information, visit The National Institute of Mental Health: Women and Depression.
Related Resource: Prenatal: Unexpected Changes
When do you feel most grumpy? How do you try to get out of it when you do?
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