Parents often experience mixed emotions when their children are all grown up and are ready to leave home. Also known as “empty nest syndrome”, the sadness results in the painful experience of letting go. Feelings of grief, loneliness, disorientation and loss are commonly seen in parents suffering from this syndrome. Sometimes, the emotions can get so overwhelming that there is a chronic sense of loss, which can lead to depression.
However, there are some parents who find an empty house to be very liberating for they associate it with more space and more freedom to do whatever they want. In fact, they look at it as an opportunity to rekindle their relationship with their spouse. But, for those who are prone to empty nest syndrome, it can pave the way for depression for the following reasons:
- Loss of purpose and identity: Empty nest depression generally hits helicopter parents, who are highly involved in their child’s whereabouts, while he or she is still in the growing phase. Such parents take a keen interest in the child’s school, studies, friends, interests and so on. But, when the child attains adulthood and leaves the home for higher studies or job, parents experience a sudden loss of purpose since they have nobody to guide or mentor, anymore.
- Feeling of guilt: Immediately after the child leaves, some parents are filled with a sense of extreme guilt. They start self-depreciating themselves or cursing their inability to bring up their child properly, and often, blame themselves for all the wrong decisions taken by their children.
- Financial crisis: A child leaving for higher studies can incur an additional cost to the parents, who end up taking loans or living frugally, and getting weighed down.
Handy tips to recover from depression
While it is normal to feel empty and glum for a while, it is not normal to allow this emptiness and depression to affect the day-to-day life. Here are a few tips that can help parents to deal with the feeling of loss or depression:
- Accepting the reality: Parents must accept the fact that their major role in upbringing and caring for their child has to come to a halt when the child becomes an adult. This acceptance can make it easier for both the parent and the child to move on in life.
- Redefining oneself: Parents must take this opportunity to explore something new. While providing for the child, a parent loses his or her identity, thus, this is the time when one must indulge in redefining oneself by involving in activities such as going back to college, volunteering, learning a new skill, etc.
- Strengthening relationships: When a child is growing, the family and social life of a parent is greatly compromised. Therefore, when the child leaves home, one must invest time in rebuilding old friendships and spend quality time with the spouse and other family members.
- Seeking professional support: If the symptoms of depression or feelings of emptiness do not subside even after indulging in self-care, it is important to reach out for professional help.
Road to recovery
Mobile phones and internet services have made it increasingly possible for parents to be in constant touch with their children, no matter how far they are. However, some parents are not able to cope with the emptiness and loneliness associated with empty nest syndrome, which, in turn, leads to depression. Untreated or chronic depression can lead to serious mental illnesses, and can also pave way for developing addiction to substances.
If you or your loved one is suffering from depression, it is important to seek immediate medical help. Any delay can worsen the situation. The Depression Treatment Centers of California can help in finding the best depression rehab centers in California. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-678-0400 or chat online with our treatment advisors for assistance in searching the best depression centers in California.