Having kids is always challenging, a source of joy but also a source of anxiety. And having depression can add to the challenge. And yet many, many women that we have worked with have had successful pregnancies and raised wonderful, healthy, happy children.
One key to success is paying attention to how mood can influence not only ourselves but also our family and children. Paying the right kind of attention, getting the help you need, and being optimistic that if you do so you will have the family that you want, is the key.
One challenge is that there seems to be a natural tendency for parents to focus all their attention on what their children need and to feel that self sacrifice is necessary and good. Whereas this may be helpful in other ways, it can be a barrier to getting the help that a parent with depression needs.
There needs to be a shift in thinking and a recognition that for most kids the key to health and emotional health is having parents who themselves are healthy. Taking care of yourself is a top priority for your family.
Here are some books to consider. Be sure that you talk to a good psychiatrist and obstetrician (having two doctors on your team from the start is a very good idea) about what to do to take care of yourself and your baby during pregnancy. Also checkout the MGH Center for Women’s Mental Health.
When a Parent is Depressed: How to Protect Your Children from the Effects of Depression in the Family by William R. Beardslee
- When Baby Brings the Blues: Solutions for Postpartum Depression by Ariel Dalfen
- Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy: From Doctors Who Are Parents, Too!
- 10 Mindful Minutes: Giving Our Children–and Ourselves–the Social and Emotional Skills to Reduce Stress and Anxiety for Healthier, Happy Lives by Goldie Hawn
- Postpartum Depression For Dummies by Shoshana S. Bennett