This post is by regular contributor Catherine Oehlman aka Squigglemum.
Winter has arrived with a vengeance this year, and the weather is getting me down. Nothing serious, just a case of the blues. It’s possible I’m prone to SAD, although it could also be PMS or just a BHD. Everyone gets down sometimes! As parents it’s important we take care of ourselves and our health, so that we can take good care of our kids. The question is, what is ‘normal’ and when do the winter blues become something more serious?
MDD – Major Depressive Disorder
“Depression is a mental state of altered mood characterised by feelings of sadness, despair, and discouragement. Clinical depression (Major Depressive Disorder) is characterized by the occurrence of one or more major depressive episodes.” Depression is complex, wide spread and still largely misunderstood. Depression can range from mild to severe, and affects both men and women. Help is readily available, your GP can recommend a psychologist in your area.
SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder
Although the term is widely overused, many people really do suffer with winter blues! “Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is depression with fatigue, lethargy, oversleeping, overeating, and carbohydrate craving recurring cyclically during specific seasons, most commonly the winter months.” Treatment is usually a combination of medication and light therapy. See your doctor if you are concerned about SAD.
PND – Post Natal Depression
Adjusting to life with a newborn is always tricky, but for some women there is no light at the end of the tunnel. “Post natal depression (also called postpartum depression or PPD) is a form of clinical depression which can affect women, and less frequently men, after childbirth.” It is serious, and requires medical attention. PND is not the same as the “Baby Blues” which often occur a few days after giving birth, but which passes quickly.
PMS – Pre Menstrual Syndrome
Few women escape the effects of monthly hormones, except during pregnancy (which has its own share of hormonal hassles!) “Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) refers to symptoms that occur between ovulation and the onset of menstruation. The symptoms include both physical symptoms, such as breast tenderness, back pain, abdominal cramps, headache, and changes in appetite, as well as psychological symptoms of anxiety, depression, and unrest.” Your GP may prescribe medication or recommend natural remedies to help ease symptoms.
BHD – Bad Hair Day
Nobody is exempt from bad days! The odd down-day here and there is perfectly normal, and not necessarily anything to worry about. Recommended remedies include chocolate, deep breaths, and phoning a friend 😉
Of course, there are many other causes for “the blues” and this list is only a starting point. Anyone can be affected, at any time.
Helpful Strategies for Parents
- Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor! When you’re concerned about your child’s health, you book an appointment without a second thought. Take care of yourself too.
- Be honest with your partner, and keep the lines of communication open.
- Resource yourself. Information is readily available online. Beyond Blue is an excellent place to start.
- Talk to your kids about it in age appropriate ways. For example, “Daddy feels sad today. Everyone feels sad sometimes.” Or “Mum needs to see the doctor to help her be healthy after having the baby.”
- Get some exercise to release endorphins. Try a spontaneous walk around the block with the pram, or a trip to the park with the kids. A regular mums’n’bubs work out class, zumba or dance lessons, or team sport can help too.
- Try a change of scenery. Sometimes getting out of the house works wonders.
- Phone a friend. Don’t go it alone! Make sure you have at least three people you can call on a bad day. Talking to another adult often makes you feel less isolated and gives renewed perspective.
Dealing with even a mild case of the blues is a challenge when you have a baby waking through the night, toddlers under your feet, or kids to taxi around. If you are struggling, don’t pretend everything is ok. Prioritise your own health, and seek help when you need it – for your children’s sake, and for your own.
How do you cope with the Winter blues?
Medical definitions (in italics) sourced from http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com