How Other Children Are Affected by Postpartum Depression
Many parents are concerned about how their children will react when their family welcomes a new baby. But for parents suffering from postpartum depression, there are a new set of concerns involved regarding their other children.
Even if a child is still in toddler age, postpartum depression can affect them too. Children can absolutely sense a change in family dynamic, feel any tension between their parents or be aware of their mother’s symptoms.
Here’s a look at some of the common problems other children face when their parents are dealing with postpartum depression.
Though it is never a parent’s intent to cause their other children any distress, often times the mother’s health challenges combined with a new baby at home can cause other children to feel isolated. They may feel left out or even neglected.
It’s important for parents to be aware of this potential problem so that they can support their other children as well during this time.
Certainly, children of any age may be confused as to why their mother is acting differently. It may be difficult for them to understand or accept that their parent is facing a health challenge. Being confused also builds isolation and feelings of possible anxiety or guilt as children feel helpless when it comes to .understanding their mother’s suffering.
It can also be expected that many children, no matter the age, may suffer some anxiety, worry or fears regarding their mother’s symptoms and her overall health. Though children may not express it, it’s important for parents and other family members to be sensitive to any signs of anxiety their other children are facing.
Often, children will naturally take on feelings of guilt when their parents exhibit behaviors they aren’t used to. As part of being confused about what is happening, they may also blame themselves and feel as though it is somehow their fault that their mother is suffering.
Communication with your other children and explaining that they are not to blame for their mother’s postpartum depression can help support them through this tough time.
How to Support Other Children
While it’s important to support other children during this time, it’s also equally as important not to keep them in the dark. If they are old enough to observe symptoms then they are old enough to understand at a certain level.
Gently but confidently explain to your other children that their mother is struggling with a medical condition. Let them know that she is receiving treatment and that she will get better. Reassuring them that she is in recovery and that it will eventually heal is vital in ensuring that children do not take on anxiety of their own.
Here are some other ways to help support children whose parents are affected by postpartum depression:
If children are school-aged, it may be necessary to inform teachers of their mother’s condition. Because some children may display different characteristics and behaviors, communication with teachers can help them to support your children as well.
Making Time for Other Children
Because children may feel a combination of confusion or isolation, it’s important to still make time for them so they don’t feel neglected. Regularly set aside time with your other children to ensure that they are also receiving the care and support they need.
Postpartum depression is known to have a depression-like effect on other children as well. If your other children exhibit any signs of their own depression or anxiety, it’s important to seek professional help for them as well. Watch for signs in other children such as:
- Anxiety and worry
- Withdrawing and isolating themselves
A physician or mental health care provider can help to further identify possible symptoms of depression or anxiety in your children. From there, a professional can help to prescribe or recommend treatment or further therapy specifically for children.