April Krekeler is a home visitor with Ohio-based Pathways to Home, one of nine partner agencies delivering home visiting services through Every Child Succeeds. Learn more about Moving Beyond Depression, an in-home Cognitive Behavioral Therapy program for moms receiving home visiting, in the NVHRC’s recent brief on maternal depression.
What is it like to feel so trapped by your life and the thoughts that creep inside your head? What does it mean to feel there is no hope for happiness or seeing a light at the end of the long tunnel? This was what it was like for me when I was depressed at a young age. Now, as a home visitor for Every Child Succeeds, I have heard similar stories from moms experiencing depression.
In my role, I have worked with several moms feeling depressed while trying to raise their children. Their depression made it difficult for them to parent and provide a nurturing and educational environment. Moms would lose interest in things they used to enjoy, such as walking outside or playing with their kids. They described themselves in a variety of ways—not having many feelings, being sad all the time, experiencing a lack of motivation, and/or being so tired.
I feel it is important to see the whole picture when trying to help identify a mom experiencing depression. For me, this means—
- Listening to what moms and other family members have to say
- Asking as many opened-ended questions as possible
- Observing moms’ body language and how they interact with their children
- Looking for dramatic changes to moms’ characters/personalities
- Keeping an eye out for “self-medication” with drugs, alcohol, food, etc.
As home visitors, we have a professional responsibility to approach mothers experiencing depression with concern, caution, and extreme love and care. We all think and process things differently, so there is no one right way to treat depression. I try to be understanding and supportive of moms during their time of need, reminding them of the positives in their life and their goals for their future.
Some of the moms I’ve worked with decided to accept a referral to Moving Beyond Depression, an in-home treatment program offered to mothers in Every Child Succeeds. Moms have described the program as rejuvenating and lifesaving! They have learned new coping skills while facing their hardships and unraveling what is at the core of their depression. These moms are now stable in their mindset and are providing a nurturing and educational environment for themselves and their children. They are able to retain employment and have healthy relationships while having a positive outlook on life. They have learned new ways to look at their world.
We all don’t work the same way, so some moms may not take to therapy. That is okay. Continue to be there and support them. Stay with them and guide them on their paths of healing and happiness. The journey out of depression is not easy, but with hard work and the help of family, friends, and caring professionals, many people are able to hit the restart button on their lives and their feelings.