Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Depressed moms make depressed kids

A new study out of Minnesota found that adopted children with a depressed mother were more likely to suffer from depression that those with a non-depressed mother.

That certainly makes sense to me. Children tend to spend quite a bit of time with their moms and a depressed mom is less involved, less enthusiastic and less engaging than a non-depressed mom. Being a good parent means being a good role model and that's quite a tall order with major depression looming around. I suppose the knowledge that your pathologies detrimentally impact your kids is a good inspiration to fight harder, to aggressively pursue an effective therapy. At the end of the day, even if you don't think you're worth it, most parents would go through hell and back for their kids.

Speaking of chillins, my moods have been impressively steady since the birth of my first child about 9 months ago. I think there are a multitude of reasons for that. First, she's an alarm clock that I can't ignore and she wakes up just about the same time every morning. Since I love my sleep, I tend to go to bed around the same time each night and getting a regular sleep schedule is useful. I can easily tell if I want to sleep longer (which usually accompanies my depressions) because it changes my bed time.

Second, my diet improved dramatically while I was pregnant and a lot of those dietary changes have stuck around. I haven't been taking any meds for about 2 years and I've lost most of the weight I put on with various SSRIs and lithium. That's something to cheer about.

And third, I think I've been a bit more vigilant about intervening when I feel my moods beginning to slip one way or another. The last thing I want is to stumble into a major depression while I'm trying to raise a child so I've been doing my mental best to guard against it. When I notice my mood starting to dip, I'll purposefully go out and do something fun or go trot around the park or the mall with the baby in tow. Those things won't kill a major undertow, but I feel like they stop a snowball on my moody mountain from becoming an avalanche.

At any rate, motherhood agrees with me and I've been enjoying the longest period of mental stability that I've had since I was a teenager (and we all know how mentally stable we felt as teens). It's been a bit challenging trying to sharpen my mind again after it was dulled by such a devastating depression, but I'm getting there, slowly but surely. I'm starting to remind myself of how I was before this drama unfolded. It's kind of like someone dropped a bomb in the middle of my mental landscape and I have to adjust the plans I had for myself before that bomb went off because life didn't just stop because part of me did. I guess it never does.