Struggling with Depression as a Single Parent | Guest Post By Kate Bregovic

According to global statistics, over 15% of the world’s children grow up in single-parent households and 85% of those are headed by single mothers. Now consider the fact that up to 80% of women will experience ‘baby blues’, & 1 in 7 will suffer full-blown postpartum depression. It is likely that the majority of single parents struggle with depression, especially during the first years of their baby’s life. Sadly, they are often denied opportunities for effective intervention. However, as the parent’s mental health has a tremendous effect on the child’s development it is essential that you learn how to manage and treat this condition. A few simple steps can be a great help in dealing with this disorder during parenthood.

Top 3 Steps in a Single Parent’s Fight Against Depression:

1. Master effective stress-management techniques: Single parents endure a greater amount of stress by comparison with their married counterparts. Economic issues are one of the main factors contributing to this problem (PLOS One), and so stress management is one of the main skills responsible parents need to have. It’s there right alongside money management skills, which can help a parent to cope with these economic difficulties. Some of the most effective stress management practices for single parents include:

    • Establishing a support system. It is said that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ and single parents definitely need to get on board with this. You will need help, so it’s vitally important to establish a network of contacts who can provide it. If starting from scratch, join local support groups and build connections with other parents.
    • Establishing a routine. Having a routine reduces stress levels by default. Most importantly, it also helps with your child’s health and character development. Look up specialized anti-stress routine ideas and adapt them to your situation, or create something unique to your own circumstances.
    • Dedicate some time for your own self-care. There may not be enough hours in a day to do everything you need, but it is essential that you set aside a minimum of thirty minutes a day for yourself. This time is most precious and should be dedicated to you only. Whether you decide to spend it reading a book, taking a bath or chatting with a friend, do it with the sole purpose of making yourself happy. Incorporate this me-time into your daily schedule and make a conscious effort not to feel guilty about it.
    • Dedicate time for your child. Just as you should spend a few minutes focused only on yourself, you also need to have a time when you are focused on bonding with your children. It is essential to do something that you both will enjoy and preferably that needs to be done together.

2. Get therapy: Depression is a mental illness which requires treatment. It is not possible to ‘power through it’, and if you ignore the problem it will only become worse. If left untreated, it can have serious consequences. At its most extreme you could end up lashing out at your children or, in the worst case scenario, becoming suicidal. Research indicates that therapy is the most effective available treatment for depression. Therefore this is the kind of help you need to get. Consult with your insurance provider to find out whether your policy covers the cost of such treatment. If it does not, look for more affordable options. At the very least you should be able to find a local support therapy group which can help you.

3. Forgive yourself: Debilitating guilt is one of the main driving causes of depression. This feeling can become completely overwhelming and chocking in its intensity, and the hardest thing you must do is not to let this guilt hinder the healing process. You are not guilty.

No matter what your situation is and how it came to be, you have to accept that guilt is your enemy. Talk about this in therapy and listen to what your group-mates or your therapist tell you. You cannot allow guilt to crush you and rob both yourself and your children of a happy future. Dealing with depression as a single parent is not easy. However, it is vitally important that you succeed as it’s the only way to raise a happy and healthy child. Reach out for help whenever you need it!

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