Working Mom Depression: How to Cope and Thrive

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Rachel Montañez84
I help you embrace a fulfilling career.
June 15, 2024 at 2:48PM UTC
Life can be hectic for us working moms. We don’t always get enough sleep, we lack time for ourselves, and there’s always a neverending to-do list. Research from Fairygodboss shows many of us are overwhelmed, with four out of ten new moms leaving their jobs, even though 75% of expecting mothers say they feel excited to get back to work after maternity leave. Integrating our new roles as moms with work requires the right support to avoid mental health concerns such as postpartum depression, anxiety, and stress.

What Are Mental Health and Emotional Well-Being and How Do They Affect Kids?

Mental health is the condition of one’s psychological and emotional well-being. A mother’s mental health is important for her kids because babies are creatures of emotional contagion. When you’re feeling sad, angry, or frustrated—or exhibiting symptoms of depression—her children are likely to notice, and her condition may affect them, too. According to a study from the University of London’s Institute of Education, a mother’s depression is more harmful than poverty for children’s mental health.

What Factors Could Contribute to or Exacerbate Maternal Depression?

Both working mothers and stay-at-home moms deal with enormous challenges and difficulties—not to mention the postpartum depression many new mothers experience.
These statistics from Working Moms Break show the realities of working mom depression:
80% catch up on work nights and weekends
81% worry they will burn out
88% said they suffer from at least one stress-related health problem since becoming a working parent
59% have problems with anxiety
43% struggle with depression

Signs That You May Suffer From Depression and Strategies for Combatting It

Sometimes it takes looking beyond the obvious to search for and identify what is causing your depression. Here are five signs that you may suffer from working mom depression and suggestions for fighting it.

1. You hate sending your kid to daycare.

It's natural to want to spend more time with your kids. In order to cope with the time away from your child, find ways to get involved with and appreciate her daycare by recognizing what you value about it and making the most of the resources available.
Separation anxiety is a real thing, but taking comfort in a job you enjoy can also help. If we work full time, 80 percent of our waking hours are spent at work. Loving your job is one of the best ways to appreciate the value of child care.

2. You have trouble sleeping.

There's a powerful link between sleep and depression, and it works both ways. When we’re depressed, we may have more trouble sleeping, and a lack of adequate sleep can also lead to depression. As women, we are more likely to have difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep than men. Neuroscientist suggests women need more sleep than men (about 20 minutes extra each day) because our brains spend more time multitasking, which means we need more time to recover. Getting better sleep can improve our health, relationships, confidence, careers.

3. Our minds are cluttered.

The mental load caused by multi-tasking, managing schedules, chores, and everything else we do as moms can increase our stress levels. This emotional overload can cause a decrease in productivity, too. Scheduling in quiet time can help eliminate our stress and reduce depression.

4. The internet can add fuel to the fire.

Your phone may seem like your lifeline, but British researchers studying the internet's role in depression found that "internet addicts" are more likely to have moderate to severe depression. So, how can too much of the Internet cause depression? Researches believe that it can socially isolate people and make us feel less content with our own lives. 
Rather than falling prey to this condition, pick something you like to do that doesn’t revolve around internet or screen usage, such as reading. The less you use electronics before bedtime, the better quality sleep you’ll get too, and sleeping well can boost your energy and mood.

5. We lack support.

There is poor institutional support for most working moms. Only 12% of employees have paid maternity leave, and post-birth care is primarily focused on the baby, with one doctor visit for mom after the baby is born. There is already a lack of support available, and many working mothers don't seek it out. That means women need to take charge of their psychological and physical health and well-being by seeking out support and asking for help when we need it.
Rachel Montanez is a career coach and career development speaker. Check out her website here and connect on LinkedIn here.

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