Middle School Moms are proven to be more prone to depression than moms of children at other ages.
Andrea Scher, 44 feels as she is a new mom again although her oldest boy, Ben is 10.
After she gave birth to Ben, she was diagnosed with postpartum depression. She defeated it with regular psychotherapy and antidepressants. Luckily she didn’t get maternal depression after the birth of her second son.
But then depression strikes again. Scher is having anxiety attacks as well as insomnia.
She says: “At 3 a.m., an electric current of fear shoots through my body, because I worry about my kids and how I am doing as a mom. My nervous system is I gn overdrive. I can’t believe I’m feeling this way all over again,”
Most of women think that the first year of motherhood is the most difficult and stressful. But Developmental Psychology published a study in which is proven that mothers who have middle school children are the ones who suffer the most from depression.
Scher says: “Parenting a tween is harder than mothering an infant,” She adds: “When Ben was a baby, I worried about his sleeping and eating schedules, but those were things I could kind of control. Now, I obsess over how much freedom I should give him when he’s playing Pokémon Go with his friends, and how I can monitor what he’s doing online. In many ways, he’s more on his own now, and I have to trust him to make the right choices.”
The psychologists Suniya Luthar, a professor at Arizona State University and Lucia Ciciolla, an assistant professor at Oklahoma State University conveyed a study in which were included 2,247 well-educated mothers with children ranging in age from infants into early adulthood. The women answered questions on parenting experiences, perceptions of their children’s behavior and their mental health.
It was proven that early adolescence period is the most difficult for mothers. This transition in their children can make them feel empty, lonely and questioning their motherhood. The studies also showed that these women experience less happiness than mothers of infants.
Luthar stated that moms of teenagers have reported that they were most depressed and unhappy when their children were in middle school. To conclude mothers of teenagers are less stressed than mothers of middle schoolers.
Samantha McDonald, 40, also suffered from postpartum depression when she gave birth to her daughter. She even believed that the baby would be happier without her. She defeated it with the help of a psychiatrist and antidepressants. But now her daughter is 12 and the depression is back again.
She says: “Ever since my daughter was 10 or 11, I’ve found myself feeling sad and irritable because I don’t know how to help her fit in at school or resolve conflicts with her girlfriends,” and “And even if I did, she doesn’t trust that I know the right thing to do, or that I can comfort her, and that’s heartbreaking. I put my career on hold because I always wanted to be a mom. It used to feel fulfilling, but now I find it unrewarding and stressful.”
This time before puberty is sometimes awful as the hormones surge and suddenly instead hugs you need to face dismissive behavior and eye rolls. This change in behavior is quite a shock for most of the mothers.
Luthar says: “Many mothers 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,” and adds: “This is a time of psychological metamorphosis for both mother and child.”
And children are not the only ones who experience hormonal fluctuations. Dr. Louann Brizendine who is a psychiatrist and a professor at the University of California, San Francisco says: “In addition to the hormonal swings that accompany our children’s tween years, women’s hormones are shifting as perimenopause begins.”
Brizendine says that in women after 42, progesterone and estrogen levels start to decrease. Because of this, women start feeling nervous and inpatient with their children and partners. Additionally these mothers are not rewarded with the love hormone –oxytocin like the mothers with little children are.
All these physical and emotional changes can be the cause of depression. Furthermore, there are so many books, blogs, classes which are created to help new moms but there are a very few resources which can be used by midlife mothers.
These moms also need external support to go through this period of depression and sadness. They just need someone who will be there when they feel in pain.
Scher is able to survive these difficult times with the help of her friends. She talks openly about her problems and they support her in her struggle.
She says: “Whenever I need reassurance, I force myself to reach out, ”and adds: “I encourage my sons to speak up when they need help, and I must advocate for myself in this way, too.”