Why Many Stay At Home Moms Get Depressed And Lose Self Esteem

Being a Mother is challenging.  One of the many challenges is the decision to be a stay home Mom (SAHM) or go back to work, full or part time. Sometimes there is no decision to be made. The only choice is one or the other. This writing focuses on the stay at home Mom and why so often she becomes depressed and loses her self esteem. To be clear here, there are many Moms who thrive being a stay home Mom. They feel very fortunate to be able to stay home with their children and find many ways to remain happy and feel good about themselves. Our daughter, Brittany, is thriving in this SAHM role and is excited to begin home schooling her oldest who is closing in on six years old.

Quality research published by the American Psychological Association, citing various studies, found that working mothers reported better health and fewer symptoms of depression than stay at home moms. There are many variables involved in such studies, i.e. age, economic status, number of children, age of children, husband presence/support, etc… .

A University of Washington study by Katrina Leupp stated that stay at home moms showed signs of depression more than working moms. These stay at home moms shared these symptoms: withdrawal from people, work, pleasures and activities; spurts of restlessness; sighing, crying, moaning; difficultly getting out of bed; lower activity and energy levels; lack of motivation; weight gain or loss. Their thinking patterns were: inability to make decisions; lack of concentration or focus; self criticism, self blame, self-loathing; pessimism; preoccupation with problems and failures; thoughts of self harm and suicide; sleep deprivation.

Leupp further states that  “the root of the problem could be low self esteem … sometimes staying at home with children isn’t valued as much as other professions.”  Rosenquist, another researcher, echoed this belief by saying our “culture doesn’t value that particular activity. … It doesn’t feel important. It’s pretty boring, and it’s pretty demanding and the tasks are pretty repetitive. … The lack of adult interaction and feelings of isolation can lead to feeling unappreciated.” Rosenquist continues by saying that “when someone has a baby in our culture … they can lose status, income, friends, and the life they knew and were used to.”

Dr. Elizabeth Lombardo, a psychologist and mother of two, talks about the importance of overcoming the social isolation that can lead to feeling sad and resentful. There is a need for adult interaction as “having conversations with children only over the course of the day can be isolating.”

Various suggestions are offered by the researchers. Some would include talking with your partner about your feelings and hopefully getting back valid appreciation for a job well done; having personal alone time;  join a gym/club/organization; forming friendships with other stay at home moms; play groups with others; finding an interest/hobby that you can enjoy while still taking care of the kids.



May this article help focus on the many challenges of being a mom, whether it be the stay at home or working mother. May she get the recognition and support needed to accomplish the goal that every Mom (and Dad) wants for their children – to be safe, healthy, feel loved, happy, and have the opportunity to grow into their full potential. They deserve that opportunity!

“The unexamined life is not worth living”   Socrates

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