How to Overcome Depression as a Mom

by | Aug 12, 2019 | mental health, MOM LIFE

Disclaimer:  This advice is no substitute for treatment by a licensed mental health counselor or therapist.  If you or someone you love are having suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).  In case of an emergency, call 911.

Are you wondering if you’re just sad or clinically depressed? 

Are you looking for information to help a loved one who is suffering from depression?

Here are signs to look out for, causes of depression, how depression affects your family, some of the best ways to overcome depression, and nine ways to treat depression naturally (without medication). 

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What are the signs of depression?

How do you know if you’re clinically depressed?

If you have many of the following symptoms for a couple of weeks or more, you may be depressed:

  • trouble concentrating and making decisions
  • fatigue
  • feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
  • feeling pessimistic and hopeless
  • insomnia or sleeping too much
  • irritability or snapping at everyone
  • restlessness
  • losing interest in things you once enjoyed, lack of libido
  • eating too much or too little
  • feeling pain, headaches, or achiness that won’t go away
  • digestive problems that don’t go away with treatment
  • feeling sad, anxious, or empty
  • suicidal thoughts or attempts

 

What causes depression?

Side note:  I’m mainly talking about situational depression here–not chronic depression or bipolar disorder.

In a nutshell, depression is the physical manifestation of deep, unaddressed emotional trauma.

Some people are hardwired genetically to slip into depression in difficult circumstances.

Depression can also be caused by the following circumstances:

  • lack of self care
  • traumatic and stressful life events
  • major life events (marriage, graduation, birth of a child)
  • serious illness
  • substance abuse
  • side effect of certain medications
  • loss of a loved one
  • job loss
  • a major accident
  • loneliness or social isolation
  • being out of alignment with your purpose

 

Spiritual causes of depression

Depression comes with negative feelings, which come from negative thoughts.

Cognitive behavioral therapists call these automatic negative thoughts.  To combat them, you have to identify the source of these thoughts, and cancel them out with evidence against them.

So basically–take every thought captive.

Depression is a monster that lies to you.  It’s up to you to find the truth and beat the lies over the head with it like a Whackamole.

 

How does depression affect your family?

The devious lies spun by depression can seduce you so far into its web that you are convinced you can’t get out.  Even worse, you may be convinced to sacrifice yourself for the perceived good of your family.

If you don’t know your purpose as a woman, wife, and mother–and how powerful your role is–you will lack the motivation to fight against depression for the sake of your legacy.

When you’re a depressed mom–you’re not thinking about that.  Thoughts of how your poor family has to put up with you will likely add to the guilt you already feel.

The best thing you can do is to be honest with your family about how you feel, and what you need from them.

It’s okay to let go of some things while you heal.  Delegate the cooking and cleaning.  Set aside some activities until you are well.  Your health comes first, mama.

Loving yourself in this way is the best way to show your family you love them.

 

6 Best ways to overcome depression

1)  Go get help. 

Get real about how you’re actually feeling, and what the situation is.  Facing reality is the first step to turning things around. 

Have a heart-to-heart with God.  Tell Him the truth about what you’re feeling, and ask Him for help.  And then–make an appointment with your doctor, and find a counselor or therapist.  

Depression is a beast that force-feeds you lies day in and day out.  The tricky part is, some of those lies may very well sound like the truth.  You will need help uncovering the lies so you can replace them with truth, and feed that truth to yourself until you regain your strength.

 

2)  Be honest with family and close friends. 

Chances are they notice that things are amiss anyway–and they are waiting to support you however they can.  They won’t be able to read your mind, and it might feel difficult to explain, but there is hope on the other side. 

If you have trouble talking about how you feel, think about writing a letter.

 

3)  Get support. 

We are meant to live in community–not to wander through difficult times alone. 

When your family and friends offer to help, let them.  They’re going to say something generic like “Let me know if you need anything,”  because they probably don’t know what in the world to do or say.   If you have trouble asking for help or don’t really know what to ask for, here are some things your friends and family would be happy to help with:

  • Someone to run errands for you.
  • Someone to watch your kids so you can attend counseling appointments or get some exercise.
  • Someone to help you clean the house.
  • Someone to help you fold laundry.
  • Someone to make a meal or two for you.
  • Someone to go to the gym or for walks with you.
  • Someone to pray with and for you.

 

4)  Consider medication for temporary relief. 

Antidepressants are not designed to be a long-term cure-all, but they can help to minimize the physical symptoms of depression while you do the necessary work to build mental and emotional strength. 

This is a highly personal thing, so pray about it and decide whether medication is right for you.  In my case, medication was a supporting tool.  It didn’t do any of the actual healing and it wasn’t something I needed long-term. 

There are several natural remedies for depression listed in the next section that you can also use if that’s your preference.

 

5)  Prioritize self-care.  

Self-care isn’t always spa trips, lavish shopping days, and bottomless brunches.  (Not that I’m mad at any of those things.)  Self-care is literally maintaining your body, mind, and soul to the best of your ability. 

It’s about proper hygiene, good nutrition, moving your body, getting adequate rest, and managing stress. 

Self-care is engaging in community with others, knowing what your emotional needs are, and making sure they are met.  This can take time and you may need to get help coming up with a self-care plan. 

 

6)  Pay it forward. 

An important part of my healing has been to share my story and encourage others.  You never know who will be helped or what life will be changed when you help someone else out of the pit.  

 

HOW TO TREAT DEPRESSION WITHOUT MEDICATION

There are several ways to minimize the effects of depression without taking anti-depressants.

There is a chemical in your brain called serotonin, which helps you feel happy.  When you’re depressed, your brain lacks serotonin.

Most anti-depressants are SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.  You can boost your serotonin levels and ease the physiological effects of depression naturally in one of the following ways:

 

1) Eat foods that boost serotonin.

These foods are typically rich in vitamin B, essential fatty acids, L-Theanine, and magnesium.

  • whole grains
  • potatoes
  • pork
  • liver
  • kidney beans
  • chicken
  • wheat germ
  • bananas
  • peanuts
  • pumpkin seeds
  • eggs
  • mushrooms
  • watermelon
  • sour cherries
  • grapefruit
  • shellfish
  • dairy
  • flaxseed
  • walnuts
  • brussels sprouts
  • kale
  • spinach
  • salad greens
  • salmon
  • green tea
  • almonds
  • cashews
  • soy milk
  • black beans
  • peanut butter
  • whole-wheat bread
  • avocado
  • brown rice
  • raisins
  • apples
  • raw carrots

 

2) Drink chamomile tea.

Chamomile works well to combat insomnia caused by depression.

 

3) Get a massage.

Massage therapy helps to reduce cortisol levels and boost serotonin significantly.

 

4) Regular exercise.

Doing a physical activity you enjoy can have the same effect as taking anti-depressants, PLUS exercise increases tryptophan levels in your brain.  If tryptophan sounds familiar–it’s the same chemical that makes you sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner or a warm glass of milk before bedtime.

 

5) ix-nay on the ine-way.

“Nix the wine” for those of you who are not fluent in Pig Latin.  Alcohol is a depressant, which will actually make your depression worse.

 

6) Get some sunshine.

Sunlight is a natural source of Vitamin D, which can help ease depression symptoms.

 

7) Check your gut.

Did you know that most (approx. 90 %) of your serotonin is produced in your gut?  This is another reason why a healthy diet is key to a good self-care plan.  You can instantly improve your gut healthy by cutting back on sugar and processed foods.

 

8)  Take supplements.

Vitamin D and St. John’s Wort are two natural supplements you can take to ease depression symptoms.

 

 

9)  Get counseling.

Overcoming depression requires doing deep work to identify your triggers and find out what caused you to become depressed.  You will need the help of someone else to ask questions and identify the limiting beliefs behind your negative thoughts.  Counselors are trained to help bear your burdens.  If you’re a believer, ask God to help you find a good Christian counselor who is rooted in the Word.

 

 

10) Pray.

Prayer has become my #1 weapon in my arsenal of tools to fight depression.

The healing power of prayer has been hugely minimized for reasons I won’t get into–in this post.

I think the main issue is that people don’t understand the deep spiritual significance of depression and the necessity of prayer, self care, and commnuity.

You can numb the physical effects using the practical tips in this post, but if you don’t address the spiritual cause, depression will most likely return.

I know from experience that the last thing you’ll probably want to do is pray when you’re suffering through depression.

I also know that things can quickly go from dim to blackout dark if you try to fight depression on your own.

Your soul has an enemy who wants nothing more than to steal your joy, kill your drive, and destroy your life.

You also have a loving, all-powerful Father who wants to rescue you and who has called you for a good purpose.

Your children need to see you fight and win the battle against depression.  There are also hurting people in this world who need to hear your story.  If you are dealing with depression, don’t try to do it alone.

You are important.  You are loved.  And your story is needed.

 

Conclusion

A good counselor, prayer, and a solid self care routine are essential to help you overcome depression. 

Depression is an attack on your soul, and doing the deep work of healing will give you the strength to overcome.

 

Disclaimer:  This advice is no substitute for treatment by a licensed mental health counselor or therapist.  If you or someone you love are having suicidal thoughts, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).  In case of an emergency, call 911.

 

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