Single Mothers At Greater Risk For Depression

By: Dave Turo-shields, Acsw, Lcsw

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Author: Dave Turo-Shields, ACSW, LCSW
Copyright: by Dave Turo-Shields, ACSW, LCSW
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Word Count: 934


In a recent study of 2,921 single and married mothers it
was discovered that single mothers have a 40% higher
incidence of major depression, with a depressive episode
lasting an average of 12 months.

There are two primary areas that catapult single mothers
into depression. These are:

1. Increased number of life stresses

2. Decreased amount of social support

These findings correlate strongly with my experience in
working with depressed, single mothers. What the research
did not address was the Catch-22 that single mothers are in.

If you are a single parent you already know what I am about
to say. If a non-married, childless adult observed all
that a single parent does throughout a day, they would need
two days sleep to recover from watching such an exhausting
day in the life of a single mom.

A single mother often does the work of three people on any
given day. Now, ask that single-mother to take time to
reduce a stressor and increase her social support system
and boy are you in for a fight!

There does not appear to be a way out. It's love, duty,
hard work and little sleep for single moms.

Is there a better way?

Yes! However, before presenting it to a single mother,
you'd better make doubly sure you've done a glorious job of
attempting to understand what her average day is like,

When an individual is heard, and I mean really listened to
from the heart, they have a tendency to open up ("Seek
first to understand..."). Then you may have the opportunity
to offer suggestions.

Now, let's flip the coin. Single mothers are often not
just exhausted, but can also be jaded, indignant, prideful
and stubborn. Life has not turned out the way they dreamed
it would.

Perhaps there were marital dreams, dreams of the
perfect home, dreams of providing the best for their
children, dreams of spending more time with their children
and dreams of being the perfect family and more. All lost.

In place of those dreams they may have bitter feelings over
the marital loss, less than optimal living situations, no
"play" time with their children, visitation issues, child
support issues, financial stress and the list could go on
for many more pages, couldn't it?

If you are a stressed-out single mom, please pay special
and close attention to what I wrote above (maybe read it
twice)... then read on.

Here are some ways to make your life easier. They are
listed in no particular order, except if you are moderately-
to-severally depressed. If that's the case then Major
Depression (diagnosed by a professional) demands prompt
attention first and foremost. Please, please take care of
you! A few folks are counting on you to ;-)

1. Immediately seek help medically and professionally for
2. Live forgiven towards yourself and others.
3. Compromise with that critical "Inner Judge" that only
seems to want to persecute you unfairly.
4. Put down your pride and take ALL the help you can get --
if people offer, accept; if you need help, ask!
5. Implement "quickie" stress relievers such as deep
breathing, going to a getaway in the mind, a quick 10
minute hot shower...
6. Get organized and/or ask for help in doing so. It's
especially important to do so around daily routines such
as morning rituals, after-school rituals, chores,
mealtimes, baths, bedtimes and family fun time.
7. Keep the clutter-bug out of your life. Commit to only
looking at mail once. Recycle household items
continually -- if you're out of space, it's time to
recycle. Get your kids involved.
8. Create a single parent co-op, where you can switch on
and off with transporting kids, doing house or apartment
projects, babysitting for each other...
9. Are you doing for your children what they can do for
themselves? Feed their sense of mastery and
independence. They often will feel great knowing they
have helped their family out in some way.
10. Keep a sense of humor. Many a single mother has told
me, "If I didn't laugh I don't know what I'd do."
11. Get your children involved in camps, church, Sunday
Bible School, Big Brother/Big Sister Programs, mentoring
programs. Let others offer what you don't have the time
or energy to offer.
12. Seek financial advice. Having direction and a plan
sure beats constant worrying!
13. Keep a family calendar. It's nice to allow your kids
to be in activities, but don't overdo it -- one per season
is a good rule.
14. Make a list of stressors. Decide what you have direct
control over and focus there, first -- in ways that you
can. With the other items, learn to let go.
15. Take itty-bitty timeouts just for you! I once knew of
a mom that bought a wild-looking red bath robe. The rule
was when mom came out of her room with that robe on, no
one was allowed to ask for anything unless the house was
on fire.
16. Playing off the co-op idea above, create a single
mothers support group. Single mothers are one of THE
most creative and resourceful groups on the planet! Why
not take full advantage of that! Rotate child care
from meeting to meeting, receive support directly from
others who've been there and pool your resources.

There's no doubt about it, you've been carved out for a
very special job here on earth. Your job description is
longer than Santa's gift list.

The ideas above do work and are working in single mothers'
lives right now. Pick just one area and begin there. When
it's ALL overwhelming, simply start where you're at. If
you need helpFeature Articles, just let me know.


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