Cure The Blahs!
Parenting is a lot of work! But to be the best parents we can be, we have to take time to nurture ourselves as the people we are outside of being Mom or Dad. Psychologist Rick Hanson, PhD, and acupuncturist & nutritionist Jan Hanson, MS, authors of Mother Nurture: A Mother's Guide to Health in Body, Mind, and Intimate Relationships, are here to help! Your question:
I've been feeling down lately. Things that ought to be really enjoyable are just blah, I'm more irritable than usual, and all the changes I've gone through since becoming a mom a year ago seem to have finally caught up with me.
Rick and Jan Hanson answer:
Because of the stresses and physical depletion that come -- amidst all the wonderful parts! -- with raising a family, about half of all mothers have significant feelings of sadness or depressed mood, and one in eight will go through a clinical depression. So if you are feeling blue, you're in good company!
First, you should make sure that you aren't clinically depressed, which means experiencing five or more of these symptoms for two weeks or longer: depressed mood; loss of pleasure in things that used to be enjoyable; weight loss; insomnia or hypersomnia; intense restlessness or sluggishness; fatigue; strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt; hard to concentrate or make decisions; recurrent thoughts of death or suicide. If you fulfill these criteria or come close, you should contact a therapist or doctor. Counseling is very effective for most depressions, and there are also many research-based alternatives to antidepressants listed in our book, Mother Nurture; antidepressants are a workable option about two-thirds of the time, typically combined with counseling.
Hopefully, you're not clinically depressed, and the suggestions below should help lift your spirits: