SINGLE MOTHERS AT GREATER RISK FOR DEPRESSION
In a recent study of 2,921 single and married mothers it was discovered that single mothers have a 40% higher incidence of major depression, lasting an average of 12 months.
There are two primary areas that catapult single mothers into depression. These are:
Increased number of life stresses.
Decreased amount of social support.
These findings correlate strongly with my experience in working with depressed, single mothers. What the research did not address was the Catch-22 that single mothers are in.
If you are a single parent you already know what I am about to say. If a non-married, childless adult observed all that a single parent does throughout a day, they would need two days sleep to recover from watching such an exhausting day in the life of a single
A single mother often does the work of three people on any given day. Now, ask that single-mother to take time to work on
stresses and increase her social support system and boy are you in for a fight!
There does not appear to be a way out. It's love, duty, hard work and little sleep for single moms.
Is there a better way?
Yes! However, before presenting it to a single mother, you'd better make doubly
sure you've done a glorious job of understanding what her average day is like,
When an individual is heard, I mean really listened to from the heart, they have a tendency to open
up ("Seek first to understand..."). Then you may have the opportunity to offer suggestions.
Now, let's flip the coin a bit. Single mothers are often not just tired, but can be jaded, indignant, prideful and stubborn. Life has not turned out the way they dreamed it would. There were marital dreams, dreams of the perfect home, dreams of providing the best for their children, dreams of spending more time with their children and dreams of being the perfect family and more. All lost.
In place of those dreams they have bitter feelings over the marital loss, less than optimal living situations, no "play" time with their children, visitation issues, child support issues, financial stress and the list could go on for many more pages, couldn't it?
If you are a stressed out single mom, please pay special and close attention to what I wrote above (maybe read it twice)... then read on.
Here are some ways to make your life easier. They are listed in no particular order, except if you are moderately-to-severally depressed. If that's the case then major depression demands prompt attention first and foremost. Please, Please take care of yourself! A few folks are counting on you
Immediately seek help medically and professionally for
Live forgiven towards yourself and others.
Compromise with that critical Inner Judge that only seems to want to persecute you unfairly.
Put down your pride and take ALL the help you can get.
Implement "quickie" stress relievers such as deep
breathing, going to a getaway in the mind...
Get organized or ask for help in doing so. It's
especially important to do so around daily routines such as morning rituals, after school rituals, chores,
mealtimes, baths, bedtimes and family fun time.
Keep the clutter-bug out of your life. Commit to only
looking at mail once. Recycle household items
continually. If you're out of room, it's time to
recycle. Get your kids involved.
Create a single parent co-op, where you can switch on and off with transporting kids, doing house or apartment projects, babysitting for each other...
Are you doing for your children what they can do for
themselves? Feed their sense of mastery and
independence. They often will feel great knowing they
have helped their family out in some way.
Keep a sense of humor. Many a single mother has told
me, "If I didn't laugh I don't know what I'd do."
Get your children involved in camps, church, Sunday
Bible School, Big Brother/Big Sister Programs and mentoring programs.
Seek financial advice. Having direction and a plan sure
beats constant worrying!
Keep a family calendar. It's nice to allow your kids to
be in activities, but don't overdo it.
Make a list of stressors. Decide what you have direct
control over and focus there in ways that you can. Your task with the other items is learning to let go.
Take itty-bitty timeouts just for you! I once knew of a
mom that bought a wild-looking, red bath robe. The rule
was when mom came out of her room with that robe on, no one was allowed to ask for anything unless the house was on fire.
Playing off the co-op idea above, create a single
mothers support group. Single mothers are one of THE
most creative and resourceful groups on the planet! Why not take full advantage of that! Rotate child care
from meeting to meeting, receive support directly from
others who've been there and pool your resources.
There's no doubt about it, you've been carved out for a very special job here on Earth. Your job description is longer than Santa's gift list.
The ideas above do work and are working in single mothers' lives right now. Pick just one area and begin there. When it's ALL overwhelming, you simply start where
you're at. If you need help, just let me know.
Veteran Psychotherapist, Trainer &
Great Blog Story!
The blog is up and running. If you
haven't checked it out yet you can do so at the link
below. There is a new addition by Dolly.
She's using Reiki successfully for chronic pain and
depression. It's inspired me to write a future article
on Reiki for the treatment of depression.
Take a moment and email
me a success moment in your fight against depression so I can
add it to the blog next. Let's create a resource for the
Here are a few top-rated
resource sites for single mothers and single fathers.
I've reviewed each site individually for quality. Help
Single Mother Articles
Parents - About.com
Take some time to review these
sites. They each have wonderful resources to offer.
"How come I start the day out full of hope
and to do lists, and by early afternoon I'm stuck,
can't find the energy to do what I need to do? I just
want to sit here. I have so much time compared to the
last 10 years. My mom died at the age of 65 this year,
and now I have lots of time which I didn't have for years
while I was busy with her. I have two teens and a
hubbie and I am feeling overwhelmed by it all. How
come I'm stuck in this mood?"
I am sorry
to see you struggling so much. I wonder many things as I
read your question. It sounds as though you are
depressed, but I'm not exactly sure what makes up the
Are you grieving the loss
of your mother?
Are you grieving the loss
of a long and enduring role you played with your mother?
Do you feel lost?
If you could have a
conversation with these feelings, what do you think they
First, normal depression does
occur with any significant loss. Please give yourself
permission to grieve. Sit down and close your
eyes. Imagine in your mind a scene that is exactly what
you would want for yourself, one year from today. Allow
it to become so vivid it's as though you are there right
now. Once you have pictured this in your mind, place
your hand across your center chest area and breathe this
vision into you.
Now, open your eyes and take a
notepad and pen and write down your imaginary scene. Put
it wherever you spend time throughout the day. Repeat
the imaginary experience daily!
Next, during a time when you
are revisiting your vision, ask yourself a couple of
What do I need to do first
to have this?
What resources will I need?
When will I begin?
Repeat this last process until
you've reclaimed the life you imagine! Please be gentle
with yourself in the process. ;-)