Post # 1
Ladies who are or have been depressed: what do you think of the decision to have children as someone who has issues with depression?
I struggle with what I would consider to be mild to moderate depression. Thankfully, I’ve never reached a point where it has brought me to an absolutely catatonic state or that I’ve been at a high risk of suicide. But it does affect me, and it affects my husband. I go through periods where I don’t want to do anything (not even fun stuff that I would normally enjoy), and even simple household stuff like doing the dishes seems like a massive undertaking. It’s like the mere thought of it is exhausting. I don’t ever want to leave the house, and I don’t want to talk to people when I’m like this. I don’t feel much, if any, happiness. In these times, I feel like I am worthless, lazy, stupid, fat – any nasty word you can think of, I think it about myself when this happens. It’s kind of miserable. I do not take medication for this or see a therapist, though I’m considering both right now. Each time I think about calling a psychologist, I always manage to convince myself that I’m not really that bad off, and I should just keep trying to make myself do things and eventually I’ll get over the episode.
What I’ve started wondering about recently is whether or not Darling Husband and I should ever try to have kids, knowing that this will probably always be something that I struggle with. I’m curious to hear how others who have been in this situation have made the decision about starting a family. And for those of you who did decide to have children, how have you balanced your depression issues with being a mom?
Post # 3
Hello- I’m using my weddingbee alias because this is something I’m private about…
My mother has depression. So as the daughter of a depressed mother, who has seen her both healthy and also very down periods…I would say it would be a shame for you discount becoming a parent. My mom is the best mom anyone could ask for. All my friends tell me all the time what a wonderful parent she is. I am so glad her depression did not deter her from having children.
Having said that, we did go through some tough times as a family. But those tough times pale in comparison to the JOY we had as a family.
It is very responsible and good of you to consider this so seriously. You should continue to do so, with your Fiance and with a counselor.
However, I just wouldn’t want you to feel so discouraged and assume you wouldn’t be a good parent.
You definitely need to take the steps to seek professional help though.
Post # 4
My mom also suffered from some bouts of depression, but she actually was really good at “hiding” it from the kids.
What I would say is if you know you suffer from it, go ahead and have kids BUT FIRST
1) start seeing a counselor to get to know yourself, to learn coping skills and to manage your depression.
And keep seeing the counselor indefinately because depression for many doesnt just go away, it just becomes something they manage. Just like if you have diabetes, you eat better, but you dont stop taking insulin.
2) make an actual plan for you and Darling Husband when you have a bout coming on. What will you do about it? What will DH? Maybe its seeing a counselor 2 times a week instead of one. Maybe its seeing one together or maybe its some you alone time. etc.
Post # 5
I have struggled with depression and anxiety for about 10 or 15 years. I typically function in my day to day life somewhere around the “mild” mark but have had peroids of moderate and severe in the past.
My pregnancy was an unplanned surprise and I was very worried about how my depression would effect things. Honestly, though…motherhood just took over. Even on my worst day, motherhood overrides every ounce of my listlessness and pain. You’ll be amazed at what you can overcome when those natural instincts kick in. My son is the reason I crawl out of bed and do what I have to do on the days that I truly feel like its impossible. He’ll be 4 soon and I have learned so much about myself in the time I’ve had with him so far. Raising him is almost like a form a therapy, if that makes sense.
Having said that, I think the best way to go about it is by talking to your husband, talking with your doctor, and talking with a counselor. I cannot explain to you the difference after I got on a regulated medication schedule that worked for me.
Post # 6
Lots of people deal with depression and still go on to be great parents, including multiple members of my family. But… I think it would be best for you to get your depression under control first. You said you haven’t seen a therapist or explored medications, but I think you should definitely speak with a therapist before you start thinking about having kids. Pregnancy hormones can wreak havoc on your mental state, so it’s important that you first build up some tools for coping — be it medication, talk therapy, or a combination.
Post # 7
I agree with PPs. I pm’d you as well.
Post # 8
@soccer25: Thank you for posting that. It made me tear up, what you wrote about the joy you had overshadowing the tough times.
@Dandelion D: It’s good to hear that the parent aspect can trump the depression aspect. I’m a little afraid to trust that will work that way for me, but maybe it would if I could get the depression a little more under control first.
@skibobrown: Yes, I have been really worried about how much worse it might get when there are all kinds of pregnancy hormones in the mix.
Okay, I think I just need to call a therapist. I keep thinking maybe I’m making too much of this, and it would be a waste of their time, but I guess if that’s the case, oh well. Better to know that, right? And I agree that if we do want to start a family, I have to get this figured out first.
Thank you for all of your posts/messages – they are really helpful to me.
Post # 9
Oh wow I feel like I could have written this post (and I know I just posted on another thread “I agree with everything you said” so we must be having some kind of mind-meld )
But yeah, I have the same concerns and I think about this a lot. My history of depression makes me extra scared to have kids.
But I think it can definitely be done and that many women who struggle with depression are excellent moms. It’s important to have a support system though so that if you find yourself slipping you can get help right away. I think having a therapist and or psychiatrist in place is a very good idea (and I think it would be a good idea even if you weren’t thinking about kids!)
I’m also a fan of learning as much as you can about it. A couple of books I recommend are Undoing Depression by Richard O’Connor and Against Depression by Peter Kramer. It’s a real illness – even when it’s “not that bad” it can still be serious.
Post # 10
Dandelion D I agree 100%
I still struggle with moderate depression, but being a mother has over ridden that. The days when I don’t want to get out of bed- I get out of bed for my girls. I HAVE to function for them, so if anything- they have helped my depression.
Post # 11
I worry about this too, taking psych courses and hearing about all the things associated with being raised by depressed or mentally ill parents. I’m also concerned about getting postpartum depression, although I’d hope that if I’m on the lookout I would know if I need help and how to get it. I think what I’m most worried about is passing on a genetic predisposition to this to my baby (along with my other chronic illnesses). I also have fertility issues so the decision on if/how to have kids is a complicated one that we haven’t made yet. Sorry if that’s not much help, just wanted to comiserate a little. I’d recomend that you see a counselor or therapist to talk about your feelings regarding this, they’d probably have some helpful insight. I struggle too with making appointments with my counselor because I think I’m wasting her time or she’ll be mad that I haven’t called in a while, but it’s always just me thinking that. You’ve got a real good reason to go in.
Post # 12
@Dandelion D: &
@eeniebeans: While I think it’s wonderful that you both had this positive type of experience, it is important for the OP to remember that that it doesn’t mean it will be that way for her.
There are many depressed women who don’t come out of their depression after childbirth and need to find support systems to deal with their illness and to be prepared for difficulties.
I am sure that the OP can find ways through medication and therapy to get better for herself and in turn for her family.
Post # 13
I have extremely severe depression, something i have been aware of for a while, but haven’t been able to hide it from anyone anymore and just got diagnosed a couple of days ago. I certainly worry about having kids and what i would be like with them, i want to be able to get out of bed and look after them, i want to be active in their lives and not have to have them cope with me being depressed. i am not planning on having kids for at least five years (i am almost 22) but i am still worried about it as i will likely battle depression my whole life. i know how hard it can be for my Fiance to deal with, and i don’t want future children to have to deal with that too. I also worry that any children i have could battle depression as well and i know how hard it is to go through, i wouldn’t want to put them through that. i get very easily stressed and can’t cope and i want to be a good mother just worry that i won’t be, and i want any child i bring into this world to have a good life, so it may be safer to avoid having children. i still want to be a mother but i want to make sure i will be a good one before considering children
Post # 14
soccer25 I was sharing MY personal journey with motherhood and depression – which is what the OP asked for. In no way did I suggest that the OP would have the same experience.
Post # 15
I would DEFINITELY go see a counselor, like yesterday. I started there, she gave me a name of a good psychiatrist, and now the meds are working for me. We aren’t having kids, but finding a counselor that specializes in your specific needs and fears is best. I got to a group practice, and when you call the first time, they ask why you want to see someone so they can place you with the right person. I suggest starting there. PM me if you have any questions ((HUGS))
Post # 16
I think the question you are asking is “Should a person with untreated depression become a parent?” I think my answer here will be unpopular—but no you shouldn’t. Not because the depression will make you a bad parent, but because any person who has a medical condition that isn’t being treated properly should think twice about taking care of another human being. (Not to mention the studies showing the effect of maternal depression on children.)
But that does not mean you shouldn’t be a parent ever. I suffer from mild depression and anxiety for almost 20 years before a major bout of it left me unable to work and able to take care of myself for several years. (As I’ve learned, each mild bout of depression actually trains your brain to be more depressed; it becomes better and better at being depressed) But I got treatment and have been in ‘remission’ for 2-3 years. And I’m TTC, currently undergoing IF treatment (and spending lots of money to try to become a mother- see below).
Is it possible to be a good parent and have an untreated mental illness? Yes you can as PP have mentioned. But wouldn’t it be better to get treated? The number one thing you can do to take care of your future child is to take care of his/her mother. Plus, you don’t have to live with depression. It’s a sucky way to live and you don’t deserve that. You deserve to find happiness and joy and energy all the time.
Please find a way to get treatment. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the best for depression. And if that doesn’t work, add meds (there is no shame in taking drugs, you have chemical imbalance in your brain. But I don’t think they should be a first line, try therapy and exercise first). Also do some reading–My favorite book is “Healing Anxiety and Depression” by Dr. Amen. He gives lots of alternative things you can do first and if you finally decide to go to med, he gives you guidance on what type of drugs to take based on your specific symptoms.
Good Luck you do not have to live this way anymore!