Postpartum depression is common amongst mothers of newborn children. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 8 women experience postpartum depression. Having feelings of extreme sadness after having a baby is something that many women go through but don't talk about enough. But depression, especially in mothers, is something that women need to continue talking about, even after their children begin to grow. A new study found that maternal depression is more common in moms of middle school children than any other age, according to NPR. Which means the fight — and the stigma surrounding maternal depression — is far from over.
The new study, published in Developmental Psychology, found that out of the sample of 2,200 mothers — with children ranging in age from infancy to adults — mothers of middle-schoolers were the most depressed. According to NPR, the study concluded that the "years surrounding the onset of adolescence" — around the time when children turn 10 years old and head into middle school — can bring feelings of unhappiness, loneliness, and prove to be some of the most difficult times for mothers. It might be hard to believe, but the study found that parents of teens — wild, crazy, hormonal teens — are happier than the parents of middle schoolers.
One of the study's authors, psychologist Suniya Luthar, believes that middle school is a time of changing for both the parent and the child — who is headed into puberty and hormonal changes — which most parents are not prepared for, according to NPR:
Most parents aren't aware that the big separation from offspring, the one that really hurts, doesn't occur when children leave the nest, but when they psychologically pull away from their mothers. This is a time for psychological metamorphosis for mother and child.
According to the study, the hormonal changes in adolescents caused by puberty — combined with middle school being the first time where children try to seek independence from their parents — is likely to cause depression or anxiety in these parents.
So what can be done to solve or help this? By taking the same approach that doctors use towards helping women with postpartum depression — by talking it out with a doctor, talking to other moms going through the same thing, and seeking professional medical help when experiencing these feelings of worthlessness. During these moments of adolescence and hormonal change, it is important parents talk to children about puberty and openly communicate with their child. Puberty is not only rough on parents, but incredibly hard on children — and it is hard to know that both parents and children suffer during this time. Communication might be able to ease this. According to Parenting, this is also a great time to introduce new rules into the household and set boundaries for the years to come to ease the change.
Parents going through depression during these uncertain times should know that it gets better — and will get better shortly. The study found that parents of teenagers are happier than those parents to middle schoolers. And even further down the line, the study found that "empty nest syndrome" — feelings of sadness that parents get when children leave the house towards their late teens — is largely a myth. While those hormonal middle school years can be tough, know that it can and will get better.