Single Mothers at Greater Risk for Depression

A sad disgusted woman looking toward the camera.

In a recent study of 2,921 single and married mothers it was discovered that single mothers have a 40% higher incidence of major depression, with a depressive episode lasting an average of 12 months.

There are two primary areas that catapult single mothers into depression. These are:

  1. Increased number of life stresses
  2. Decreased amount of social support

These findings correlate strongly with my experience in working with depressed, single mothers. What the research did not address was the Catch-22 that single mothers are in.

If you are a single parent you already know what I am about to say. If a non-married, childless adult observed all that a single parent does throughout a day, they would need two days sleep to recover from watching such an exhausting day in the life of a single mom.

A single mother often does the work of three people on any given day. Now, ask that single-mother to take time to reduce a stressor and increase her social support system and boy are you in for a fight!

There does not appear to be a way out. It’s love, duty, hard work and little sleep for single moms.

Is there a better way?

Yes! However, before presenting it to a single mother, you’d better make doubly sure you’ve done a glorious job of attempting to understand what her average day is like, FIRST!

When an individual is heard, and I mean really listened to from the heart, they have a tendency to open up (“Seek first to understand…”). Then you may have the opportunity to offer suggestions.

Now, let’s flip the coin. Single mothers are often not just exhausted, but can also be jaded, indignant, prideful and stubborn. Life has not turned out the way they dreamed it would. Perhaps there were marital dreams, dreams of the perfect home, dreams of providing the best for their children, dreams of spending more time with their children and dreams of being the perfect family and more. All lost.

In place of those dreams they may have bitter feelings over the marital loss, less than optimal living situations, no “play” time with their children, visitation issues, child support issues, financial stress and the list could go on for many more pages, couldn’t it?

If you are a stressed-out single mom, please pay special and close attention to what I wrote above (maybe read it twice)… then read on.

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