But the study also looked at the other side of the work versus non-work coin and found that among working women having the “supermom” attitude that they could effortlessly combine caring for their family and job responsibilities, the risk of suffering from depression was greater. In comparison, working mothers who were realistic in their expectations of themselves were at a much lower risk for depression. “Employed women who expected that work-life balance was going to be hard are probably more likely to accept that they can’t do it all,” Leupp said.
Mothers who realize their limitations are typically more comfortable making allowances in the workplace to manage home life, such as leaving work early to pick up the kids from school. These trade-offs help balance their home and job responsibilities, and ward off depression.
However, women who aspire to be “supermoms” may suffer depression when they begin suffer feelings of guilt because they are not meeting their own high expectations. “Supermoms have higher expectations for fairness, so it makes sense that they would be more frustrated with the division of household chores,” Leupp said.
As for whether or not it is better for women to work outside the home, Leupp said, “Employment is still ultimately good for women’s health, but for better mental health, working moms should accept that they can’t do it all.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 19 million Americans suffer from depression. It is estimated that 10 percent to 25 percent of women, and 5 percent to 12 percent of men will become clinically depressed at some point in their lives. Depression is so rampant that it is often called the common cold of mental illness. Add in the state of the economy, and the fragile job market, and a recipe for depression is made among working mothers.
Help is available for people with depression. If you believe you are suffering from depression, consult your healthcare provider to discuss the options available for relief of symptoms of depression to let you get on with your life in a more positive light.