Depressed Parents - Discussion and Treatment

Having depressed parents usually has a profound impact on the lives of children. There has been a steady increase in children dropping out of high school as well as young children with learning problems, difficulty concentrating and inability to meet certain basic requirements at school. And the underlying cause of most of these problems in children is being attributed to depression in one or both parents.

Parents often fail to recognize that they are depressed and that children are merely reacting to the parentsÂ’ behavior. This fact is completely missed out and unsuspecting children bear the brunt of being unable to function well in a school environment. Counselors and therapists at school and outside are now insisting on talking with parents to establish the wellbeing of the parent because if there is a problem there, such as depressed parents, then it is better to address the issue at its source.

Causes for depression in parents can be biological or stress-related and, in any case, it is something that needs immediate attention and treatment. Biological factors include family history of depression and stress-related factors could include personal and professional problems like illness, disability, death of a loved one, separation, divorce, domestic violence, poor financial condition, etc.

Under these circumstances, a single parent or both parents might not be able to pay attention to the children, their studies, and / or their problems. These events result in children not being able to cope with school work, feel neglected and fear being abandoned, and ultimately become a cause of concern and worry to the already depressed parent. Therefore, examining children and parents is extremely essential in tracing the root cause of the problem and ensuring that is treated first.

Children who abuse drugs, consume alcohol and indulge in antisocial activities at a very young age often come from homes where one or the other parent suffers from major depression. Depressed parents are not able to connect or develop a bond with their children, and they thus feel extremely isolated and lonely. Such children often feel that they do not have a sense of belonging and ultimately resort to drugs and alcohol for comfort.

Therefore, it is extremely important for close friends and family to advise such parents that if they are going through problems and are not able to cope with the stress, they should seek professional help immediately. They need to bounce back from being depressed parents, take responsibility, and develop a nurturing relationship with their children. Otherwise, the childrenÂ’s lives and future may be ruined.

Young mothers who suffer from postpartum depression often tend to neglect the newborn and miss out on the nurturing motherly relationship from the very beginning. At any stage of development, if the parent is not understanding and nurturing, children often end up paying the price and end up getting depressed themselves.

Just as depressed parents can affect children adversely, children who are depressed, indulge in antisocial activities, run away from home, or take to drugs and alcohol have the ability to trigger depression in parents. This often results in other children feeling neglected and lost.

Therefore, it is a very fine balance that parents have to walk while raising kids. Parenting is a serious responsibility and there are high chances of this delicate relationship getting deeply affected when one or the other is suffering from depression.

Death of children can cause maximum damage to the feelings and emotions of parents. This is loss that is very hard to overcome and parents often end up feeling extremely depressed when such unfortunate incidents occur. Young mothers who lose their babies as well as mothers whose children suffer from cancer or any other disease, often get severely depressed and this affects everyone else at home, including other children.

Treatment options for depressed parents include counseling, psychotherapy, and pharmacotherapy. These modalities can help parents to identify their problems and work towards resolving or overcoming them.

In our view, drug medications for treating parents (or anyone) with depression should only be used as a last resort.


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