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HealthInfo Canterbury

Parenting with depression & anxiety

Parenting with depressionLooking after children is tough at the best of times. It is even harder if you suffer from anxiety or depression.

Children are very tuned in to emotions and can be negatively affected by a parent’s mental illness. They may:

Seeing this happen can make you feel worse because of guilty feelings and losing confidence in your parenting.

Here are some practical steps you can take when you are parenting and have depression or anxiety:

Get help for your condition.

The first step is to identify your problem and get the right help. See your GP or look into counselling. You might benefit from medication or talking therapy. If you are already on medication, talk to your GP about whether you need a change in dose or type of medication.

Look after yourself

It’s hard to look after others when you are unwell. Don’t forget your own physical and emotional wellbeing. Try to eat well and stay active.

Get help with parenting

When you have depression, negative thoughts can knock your confidence about the way you look after your child. You could try:

Get support for your child

If you have been depressed or anxious for some time, it could help to get extra support for your child.

Get help through a family support organisation.

Try to be present

Children live in the present. Try to join them. This can be really hard when your mind feels overwhelmed but being present is a really useful tool in improving brain chemistry. It takes practice. Try to:

Playing and being in the moment will not only benefit your child but will also help you in your recovery.

Getting outside in nature has huge benefits for both your child and you. Go for a walk, to the beach or to the local park. Take time to notice the effect this has on both your child and your own wellbeing.

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by Psychiatrist Canterbury DHB. Last reviewed May 2019

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Page reference: 541112

Review key: HIDPR-5763