Abu Dhabi, UAE: If your mother shows a significant lack of interest in daily activities and demonstrates signs of hopelessness in her life, she may be suffering from what is referred to as the ‘common cold’ of psychology.
For sufferers of depression who happen to caretakers, the entire family will most likely be affected from certain symptoms such as withdrawal and lack of communication.
Speaking to Gulf News, Dr Dolly Habbal, PhD in Clinical Psychology, at the Diagnostic Assessment and Psychotherapy department of Gulf Diagnostic Hospital, said: "Depression is more common in females. When a mother gets depressed she will not have the energy to focus on daily chores such as helping her children out with their homework. She will also become very irritable and may end up abusing those around her, verbally and even physically sometimes."
Other individuals affected by a mother’s depression may include the husband, whom the mother is more likely to become distant from.
"A depressed woman’s sexual drive will lessen and she will therefore not approach her husband," Dr Habbal said. "She will seem hopeless and will suffer from mood swings. The most common symptom of depression is not finding the same joy in previously enjoyable activities."
Due to hormonal changes that occur in women at the age of menopause, the expert said that most are likely to feel that their role as mothers has diminished. They are also more vulnerable to dwell on the past and compare themselves to others or their former selves.
"My mother, who all her friends say looks a lot younger than her age, tells herself that she is ugly whenever she looks into the mirror," said N.A., an American expat living in the capital. "When thinking out loud, she frequently refers to the ‘former happy days’ she used to live as a child, and continuously tells me and the entire family about how beautiful she once was and how hideous she has become. It is very heartbreaking to see, especially since it is not true in any sense."
Another resident S.S. who says her mother-in-law shows all the symptoms of clinical depression, told Gulf News that her mother-in-law’s isolation from her children is what puts her down the most.
"Despite her strong faith and belief in God and even though her youngest son is doing everything possible to bring his mother and father to live with him, she is continuously dwelling on how far away she is from her family," S.S., a 26 year-old media executive, said. "Although my sister-in-law is still living with her parents, her mother always worries that none of her other children want to move closer to home. This makes our conversations very gloomy and whenever one problem she’s worried about is solved, she always finds something else to upset her."
If not treated, depression can become a chronic illness, Dr Habbal said.
"Many patients think that seeking professional help means that they are crazy when, in fact, so-called ‘crazy people’ are the only ones we do not treat as psychologists," she said. "Psychotherapy and group therapy can prove very effective in countering the symptoms of depression and many of those I meet show signs of improvement just within one week."
One of the best things that depressed people can do is to keep themselves busy by maintaining a set of goals that they wish to achieve either through sport, work or being creative.
A.N. is battling feelings of anxiety over the idea that her children are all moving away to study abroad by keeping herself involved in sports such as swimming, dancing and other activities.
"She is even thinking of travelling on a whim and escaping the monotony of daily routine but I am always very afraid that she will slip through," said her 21-year-old daughter Hanan, who is completing her bachelor’s degree in Canada.
© Gulf NewsApr 2014