Can Empty Nest Syndrome Lead to Depression?
While some parents welcome an empty house with open arms, finding it liberating and freeing, many empty nesters find the suddenly empty house to be a struggle. The negative feelings associated with empty nest syndrome can affect both men and women equally.
Often, parents experience regret of lost opportunities to be a part of their child’s life, or if they are used to caring for their child full-time, they experience a loss of focus and feelings of no longer being needed. An empty nester that is weighed down by negative emotions may develop depression – a mood disorder that can significantly affect their quality of life.
Causes of Depression in Empty Nesters
Depression is generally influenced by a number of things, including:
- A family history of depression;
- Substance abuse;
- Chronic physical illness; and
- Major life changes.
For empty nesters, the transition period has the potential to negatively impact a parent’s mood in a number of ways.
Because a parent often defines themselves by their role as the caretaker of a child, they often come to see themselves as a parent first and foremost. When that child grows up and decides to move out of the parent’s home, it is easy to lose identity and feel lost or lonely. It is also very common for a parent to see as if they may have failed to protect their children as they move out into the world on their own – a parent will often feel guilt if their child makes unhealthy or bad decisions.
If you are experiencing depression as a result of becoming an empty nester, you may experience symptoms such as insomnia, worthless feelings, poor concentration, and fatigue. Looking for treatment for your depression can help to alleviate your symptoms and help you work through your depression, getting back to you a healthy and happy lifestyle. Seek professional help to work through your symptoms and get yourself back on track.