Stay-at-home mom depression. It’s a real thing. It is also a devastating thing that can completely suck away the joy of motherhood. When you feel those stay-at-home mom depression symptoms sneaking in, it can be tough to turn them around.
I can promise you this… you are not alone.
Maybe you had always dreamed of being a stay-at-home mom and then your feelings of depression crept in when you didn’t even notice.
Or maybe you unexpectedly became a stay-at-home mom because the cost of child-care negated your paycheck at your job. While you love your kids, your career was also important to you.
Whatever your case is, trust me, I understand. I have been there.
I have been the stay-at-home mom who suffered deeply from depression that just wouldn’t go away. Spoiler alert: sometimes it still creeps in when I least expect it.
It’s important to be aware of stay-at-home mom depression symptoms and understand what you can do to get well again.
|This post was co-written by Licensed Professional Counselor, LaVonne Dyste, LPC. This post should not be taken as actual medical advice. Please seek professional help if you feel like you are a danger to yourself or others.|
This post is part of the series “31 Days to Household Happiness”. If you would like to join in on the rest of the series, you can CLICK HERE.
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Stay-at-Home Mom Depression Symptoms
Dreading the days.
There have been days in my life when I didn’t even want to get out of bed. I would have stayed there all day if it would have meant not facing anyone or anything.
That’s a tough feeling when you have kids that depend on you.
Staying in bed all day isn’t an option when there are mouths to feed and diapers that need changing.
Not only does the depression linger, but then you have added guilt when you don’t even feel like spending time with your kids.
It’s normal to have an “off” day every now and then, but when you regularly dread your days, it might be depression.
Irritability is another symptom of stay-at-home mom depression.
I’m talking about a chronic bad mood where you can’t even fake a good time.
I’m talking about the kind of irritability where everyone around you feels like they need to walk on eggshells.
And I’m not saying that in a judgy way, I’m saying it because I’ve been there.
I’ve been the one feeling like everyone is getting on my last nerve, all the time, and can they please leave me alone?
Except it wasn’t just on a “bad day”, it was all the time that I felt that way.
I finally realized it wasn’t them.
It was me.
Snapping at your kids and your husband regularly is a good sign that something is up physically, not just emotionally.
Having a grouchy day here or there doesn’t signal depression, but you want to keep an eye on how often you are feeling irritable.
Now that I am on the other side of depression, I can better identify when my moods are just moods, or when I need to make dietary and supplement adjustments to ward off full-blown depression symptoms.
Related Post: Find Your Inner Peace as a Mom
You know those days when you just have the blues? Those days are totally NORMAL.
What isn’t normal is an overwhelming and recurring feeling of sadness each and every day. This type of sadness might be accompanied by bouts of crying for no reason in particular.
After my second child was born, I had terrible post-partum depression that was never diagnosed. I was sad all.the.time.
It was particularly worse in the evenings, and continued for a couple of YEARS after his birth.
I wouldn’t wish that feeling on my worst enemy.
When you have more sad days than happy days, you need to evaluate yourself and consider that this might be a symptom of depression.
I’m a pretty independent and introverted person, so I know that when I start to feel lonely, something is going awry in my brain.
Feeling lonely isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The problem is when you regularly feel like no one wants to spend time with you or that it is just you against the world.
This is a huge one for stay-at-home moms because it is such an isolating situation.
You are alone with your kids A LOT.
And let’s admit that being with kids is awesome, yet not the same as being with adults.
Of course, you can plan play dates and hang out with other moms, but at the end of the day, it is you cleaning up spills and being the referee between sibling arguments.
It’s also another one of those things that causes more guilt upon the depression.
That guilty feeling of I should be happy I can stay home with my kids. Why isn’t this enough?
But it’s not a question of being enough or not loving your kids.
That isn’t the issue at all.
Because I am a stay-at-home mom, my husband works even longer hours to make up for the single income.
This is the case for a lot of families and tends to magnify the issue of loneliness.
Pretty soon, the loneliness feels overwhelming and out of control, but keep reading because there are ways to reign it back in.
Not wanting to do things you used to.
When you are depressed, it’s easy to get into a cycle of not wanting to do anything and then feeling guilty and more depressed about it.
This is one of the most noticeable signs of depression.
You just don’t feel like yourself, and you pretty much don’t care anyway.
If you used to enjoy going on walks, or watching your favorite TV show and now you don’t feel like doing even those things, you could be suffering from depression.
This symptom of depression is also really hard because you don’t want to do anything, yet you want to feel connected and just can’t muster up the mental energy to even care.
Related Post: A Stay-at-Home Mom Schedule That Works
Tips to Relieve Stay-at-Home Mom Depression
Inform yourself about depression.
I have found that things seem a lot less scary and sad when I know about them. This goes for depression also.
Find out what makes your depression worse.
Educate yourself on what triggers might be.
Read and research as much as you can and you will be amazed at how empowered you feel.
Once I learned that food and sleep were making my depression worse, I did a complete overhaul and the results were amazing.
Here are 5 great books to help kick stay-at-home mom depression symptoms:
Talk to someone.
If the stay-at-home mom symptoms resonate with you, you need to talk to someone. Talk to your spouse, your parents, other family members, your friends, a therapist–someone who will listen
Let me repeat: YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE.
Talking about your depression symptoms will make others aware of your depression, and will create a support system for you.
You will need support to move beyond depression.
If you don’t have supportive family and friends around you, then set up an appointment with a therapist or counselor.
In order to work through depression, it’s important to be able to express the feelings you are experiencing.
Take a look at these places online that you can find a therapist:
At Mywellbeing.com you can answer a few questions and then be matched with a therapist or coach.
This service is offered in California, Florida, Texas, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. It’s free to be matched up and then you pay the therapist or coach as you normally would.
Do one thing you enjoy every.single.day.
Don’t roll your eyes at me, yet. When you are depressed, your life is on auto-pilot. You are going through the motions.
Maybe you can crack a smile here and there, or maybe not. It’s just that miserable.
Find one thing you have enjoyed in the past and do it.
Do it every.single.day.
Even if you are just going through the motions… do it!
Read a book, take a walk, make something crafty, refurb some furniture, whatever used to light you up.
Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain and your little endorphins aren’t kicking into high gear like a normal brain should be.
If you can fire even a few more endorphins by doing something you enjoy, you might start to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Get enough sleep.
As stay-at-home moms, it’s hard to find time to do what we enjoy.
I often find myself awake much past my husband and kids because I want to spend time alone, doing whatever I want.
The next day, I always regret those lost hours of sleep.
And if I go a few days with very low hours of sleep, I can feel the sadness and depression creeping back in.
I went through a phase where I would stay up until 2 a.m. or later, then wake up with kids, “fuel” myself with coffee, and then repeat.
Eventually that caused depression, a bout of pneumonia and chronic fatigue (that I fought for a long time to correct).
So, take it from me, get your beauty sleep.
It makes your mood so.much.better.
Our brains have to stay healthy in order to ward off depression.
This means that proper sleep has to be at the top of your priority list.
Eat a balanced diet.
Not only have I suffered from depression, but I also started having anxiety after I had my second kiddo.
Talk about a dangerous combination.
I was anxious to leave the house, yet depressed because being a stay-at-home mom is isolating.
There were days when I sat on my couch in a fog.
I could barely think.
I felt like doing absolutely nothing.
My limbs felt heavy.
Eventually, I figured out that this feeling of physical weakness was a symptom of my poor diet and a gut that needed a major overhaul.
But, it wasn’t until I changed my eating habits that I really realized how much my diet was affecting my mood.
A few days into my diet change, I noticed my mood was better.
My brain felt sharp and clear.
My anxiety— gone.
It was the biggest game-changer for my depression.
Now, after fixing my gut and eating much, much better, I feel like I can take on the day’s activities.
I can referee kids’ arguments with grace and patience.
I can be present for my kids without feeling like I need a nap.
And I can enjoy motherhood the way it was meant to be.
Eating a balanced diet is so important for warding off stay-at-home mom depression. Your brain NEEDS nutritious food to function properly.
It’s hard to eat properly when you’re a busy mom, eating scraps off of your kids’ plates. Really, I get it.
But, when you look at the alternative to eating a balanced diet, you find a way to buckle down and eat well.
You can either take the time to eat food that feed your brain, or you can suffer, and not be the mom your kids deserve.
Final thoughts on depression as a stay-at-home mom.
Fighting depression makes it even more difficult to raise kids well.
I promise you that you are not alone in your battle.
Being a stay-at-home mom is isolating and can be extremely overwhelming.
If you suffer from depression, please talk to someone and try to create a support system around you, whether its a physical support system or an online group that offers support and advice.
You and your kids deserve it!
Comment below or send an email if you are facing depression and need resources to get help.
LaVonne Dyste is a Licensed Professional Counselor at The Springs Counseling Group. She specializes in working with couples and families, hoarding and patients with OCD.