Depression Rates and Stay At Home Mothers

Depression Rates and Stay At Home Mothers March 2, 2020

Lori Alexander of The Transformed Wife is up on her high horse today tilting futilely at the false windmill notion that depression rates are highest among working mothers. Actually, I do think working mothers suffer from more guilt over working because of non-thinking female cultural enforcers constantly yelling at them that they are  ‘ruining’ their children by working. But what’s the truth in this?

Here’s what Lori claims:

or if you’re as blind as me and cannot read this tiny print here’s what she’s saying:

“No, being a homemaker doesn’t lead to depression. Since women have left the home and tried to have it all, women are more depressed than ever before. Look up how many women are on anti-depressants and the numerous articles trying to explain why depression has skyrocketed among women. Women aren’t designed to do men’s work plus their own. The only reasons homemakers are depressed (other than a chemical imbalance) is because they have not been taught that it’s okay to not have a career and bring home a paycheck. They are right where God wants them to be and it is good. They need to learn that godliness with contentment is great gain and that as they love and serve their husbands and children, they are loving and serving Christ.

Is it a Neanderthal concept for women being barefoot, pregnant, taking care of their men’s needs, and balancing the entire family and household on her shoulders? No, it’s God’s concept for women and it’s perfect! Fertility is a short window in women’s life. By 30 years old, 90 percent of their eggs are gone so I always encourage women to NOT take their fertility for granted since children are the best blessings on this earth. Women were created to have children and it’s good!”

Yeah, about those claims that stay at home mothers and their depression rates. Not entirely the truth, it’s nothing more than assumptions by Lori. I did find one study that claimed there wasn’t more depression in stay at home moms, from the American Psychiatric Association, but they did note an interesting difference in life satisfaction:

“Matched groups of working wives and housewives drawn from a community sample did not differ on current and past psychiatric symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and social functioning. They did differ markedly on enjoyment in and satisfaction from their work. The working women derived considerably more satisfaction from their outside jobs than either they or the housewives did from their work in the home.”

Every other survey or study I glimpsed online did not paint quite as rosy a picture of stay at home mothers.

This one is from Slate remarking on the rates of depression according to a 2012 Gallup Poll:

“According to a Gallup poll released last week, mothers who don’t work outside the home were far more likely to be depressed, with 28 percent reporting depression, compared with 17 percent of working mothers, and also 17 percent of working women who don’t have children. In fact, stay-at-home moms fare worse than these two groups by every emotional measure in the survey, reporting more anger, sadness, stress, and worry. They were more likely to describe themselves as struggling and suffering and less likely to see themselves as “thriving.”

From Psychology Today:

“And so it was that the very first study of women and depression by Brown and Harris (“Social Origins of Depression” 1978) found that it was lack of variety in one’s work and social isolation that were causes of depression. Staying at home, deprived of adult companionship, without personal recognition or financial reward for the daily grind of managing young children: Women were at greater risk of depression because women were more likely to be housewives. Not having the option to do more, not being allowed to juggle and stretch made them vulnerable.”

There are oodles of scientific papers alleging the same thing over and over. Plus that women in Lori’s age group who stay home have the highest rates of depression. Interestingly enough drug abuse among stay at home mothers was much higher than in the working world. I found that statistic alarming considering these are people raising children, the last folks on earth who should be taking recreational drugs. Some studies cite the isolation factor and the fact that you are doing something that the world does not give you accolades or acknowledgement for.

But here’s the thing that Lori et al are missing. Wouldn’t this world be much better if we simply focused on allowing a woman to do what she feels called to do, stay at home, work, work part time, volunteer, without judgement or harsh words?

Depression and guilt would be helped, which helps all of us. Support one another choices instead of this angry blaming perpetuated by Lori and others. No matter what Lori claims it’s a fact that the Proverbs 31 woman praised by God was busy working. Nothing in the Bible supports only one way to run your life. Funny how the Bible has more options than Lori Alexander herself.

A peek at Lori’s social media shows that this is a hill she’s willing to die up. She’s chewing the scenery and making with the personal drama this morning.

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About Suzanne Titkemeyer
Suzanne Titkemeyer went from a childhood in Louisiana to a life lived in the shadow of Washington D.C. For many years she worked in the field of social work, from national licensure to working hands on in a children's residential treatment center. Suzanne has been involved with helping the plights of women and children' in religious bondage. She is a ordained Stephen's Minister with many years of counseling experience. Now she's retired to be a full time beach bum in Tamarindo, Costa Rica with the monkeys and iguanas. She is also a thalassophile. She also left behind years in a Quiverfull church and loves to chronicle the worst abuses of that particular theology. She has been happily married to her best friend for the last 33 years. You can read more about the author here.

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