Work Depression in Parents and Its Effect on Family Life

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Work depression — whether it happens in a traditional workplace or as a result of remote work amid the pandemic — has effects on parenting and children's welfare. It is wise for parents to be aware when they have symptoms of work depression and get the necessary support and treatment.

Depression Affects Over 17 Million American Adults Every Year

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, there is an estimated 17.3 million Americans over the age of 18 who suffer at least one major depressive episode in a year. Depression is not the feeling of sadness alone, but it is often coupled with anxiety, lethargy, difficulty in concentrating, loss of motivation, unexplained crying, and frequent boredom.

ALSO READ: Weaning off Depression Medication: A Major Concern After NYC Mom Commits Suicide With Daughter

Understanding Work Depression

Healthline reveals that work depression can lead to absenteeism, loss of productivity, physical and mental health concerns, and even increased substance use. Psychiatrist and regional medical director at Community Psychiatry Leela R. Magavi explains that work depression can be caused by risk factors such as:

  • Workplace gossip and bullying
  • Limited social support at work
  • High job demands or excessive workload
  • Imbalance of effort and reward
  • Being overworked or underpaid
  • Unfair expectations
  • Low decision Latitude
  • Workplace politics
  • Unclear roles at work
  • Dismissive managers
  • Poor Job Fit

Additionally, psychiatrist Rashmi Parmar, M.D. noted that the early detection and awareness of work depression, as with any health condition are key to resolving this concern. Parmar further noted the more common signs manifested by work depression such as:

  • Low energy, boredom in tasks, and complacency
  • Increased anxiety levels hen managing stressful situations at work
  • Low mood and persistent feelings of sadness
  • Feeling overwhelming guilt, worthlessness, and hopelessness
  • Inability to pay attention to work tasks and retain information
  • Sudden changes in appetite and sleep
  • Physical symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and upset stomach
  • Impaired decision-making ability
  • Making excessive errors at work
  • Increased irritability
  • Tearfulness at work
  • Increased absences
  • Indifference and withdrawal from people

ALSO READ: Boy Dies of Drug Overdose, Mom Blames Pandemic for His Depression

Effects of Parental Depression on Children

An NCBI report on the associations between parental depression and child health and psychological functioning revealed the effects on the development of children. Depressed parents tend to display more hostility and negative parenting. In some cases, the depressed parent may withdraw from their child, unable to meet the child's needs.

Parental depression is associated with a child's poorer physical health and well-being. Children of depressed parents display signs and vulnerabilities towards insecure attachment. They also present a more difficult temperament, heightened emotionality, self-blame, lower academic performance, fewer instances of happiness, and more aggression. Such children also tend to have poorer functioning of their stress response systems.

It is therefore vital that parents struggling with work depression get the help, support, and therapy they need. Separation of work and family life can be difficult when depression creeps in.

Following routines could also help. Parmar notes, "without a routine, it gives way to depressive thoughts and feelings."

If parents can change their social environment at work, this can also have a positive effect on their parenting and family life.

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