5 Ways Medication Can Make You a Better Mom

Hot List 54

clouds windowThis week's big controversy in parenting: Moms on Meds! As in, Why are so many moms on psychiatric medications and how can we make them feel guilty and ashamed? It's not a new controversy, not by a longshot: "Mother's Little Helper" by The Rolling Stones came out in 1966, and the Valium-inspired lyrics are perfectly relevant 40 years later:

Kids are different today, I hear ev'ry mother say
Mother needs something today to calm her down

And though she's not really ill, there's a little yellow pill
She goes running for the shelter of a mother's little helper
And it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day

Times haven't changed that much, except now we have more choices -- it was a recent article about how Xanax helps one woman to "be a better mom" that re-ignited the "moms on meds" debate.

A debate which is, in theory, born out of some concern that we're suddenly, needlessly over-medicating moms for a range of unpleasant but normal maternal emotions: Sadness, anxiety, pessimism, insomnia, irritability, fatigue. A debate stemming from the belief that moms should be able to "pull themselves out of it." From the implication that mothers who "fall back" on psychiatric meds are either lazy or addicted or unstable -- unfit.

More from The Stir: Mothers on Meds Don't Need Your Judgment

Not only is this a dangerous, irresponsible argument for any medical professional to make, in my personal opinion, it's completely untrue. I know from experience that post-partum depression is real. So is post-post-partum depression tinged with anxiety and the occasional panic attack. So are maternally-induced insomnia and melancholy and a whole host of other motherhood-related emotional disorders that go beyond "unpleasant but normal" into "I can't function like this" territory. And I also know from experience that medication can help. A lot. So rather than question the validity or judge the morality of moms on meds, let's just look at a few ways psychiatric medications truly can help some of us to be better moms.

Meds can:

1. Help make the oftentimes terrifying world seem like a less terrifying place to raise children.

2. Lessen out-of-control mommy guilt (which, left unchecked, can lead to/aggravate depression).

3. Make it easier to manage the stress of juggling more work/family/life responsibilities than human beings are meant to juggle at one time.

4. Help regulate sleep patterns/avoid crippling fatigue.

5. Help keep the everyday emotional ups-and-downs of your children in perspective.

Obviously I'm not saying that every mom should be on meds or even that every mom currently on meds should be on meds, but I am saying some of us do need to be on meds, and that today's medications are a far better option than the methods of self-medication mothers (and others) were forced to resort to in the past. The stigma needs to go.

Do you think meds can help some of us to be better moms? How?


Image via the_stir/Flickr

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JD Bailey

I'm one of the moms in the Parenting Magazine "Xanax" article. I have been battling depression since I was diagnosed with PPD 4+ years ago. I have tried many treatments: antidepressants, therapy, and the all-natural route (which is what I was doing when I was interviewed for the article). Right now, a low dose of an antidepressant is best for me, so that's what I do.

To all the people out there who are leaving negative comments and attacking moms who take meds: Depression is not "having trouble dealing." It is a chronic illness that needs medical attention. Would you tell a person with MS or Lupus to "buck up and try harder"? Of course not. Uninformed comments like those are what keep women with depression suffering in silence.

As this article said, "...some of us do need to be on meds, and that today's medications are a far better option than the methods of self-medication mothers (and others) were forced to resort to in the past. The stigma needs to go."


I blog about my depression in an effort to help other moms dealing with the same thing to not feel alone, to get help, and to feel like themselves again. And I thank the author of this piece for doing the same.

elk571 elk571

As you've said, this is your personal opinion and not that of someone w/ training; unless you are a medical professional (which as just noted you are not) you can't claim that it's an irresponsible argument for one to make!  Second, all those arguments that you've outlined have other remedies that are much better and should be approached first.  Just one example: if you're stressed b/c you're juggling more responsibilities than you say one human is meant to, cut some of them out!  It IS ok to say no when someone asks you to do/help w/ something!  God forbid you don't look perfect to everyone else (oh wait, that's why you're so medicated !)

nonmember avatar Pam

Meds saved my life! A year and a half ago I became a new mom, I had a perfect baby boy. I was also at the time a single parent and without any help from family or friends. My maternity leave was up and had to return back to work to my full-time. I hadn't had any real sleep In WEEKS I was so tired, stressed and depressed. I had no one to turn to for help,I never felt so alone and seen the world as a bad place. I still couldn't get any sleep and was on the verge of losing my job because of missing work. I couldn't let that happen!! I went to my doctor with tears in my eyes and told him I need help! He prescribed me Zoloft. After two weeks of taking it my life turned around! I was sleeping better my anxiety was gone and I start to see the good things in life again. I also got a higher paying job at my work! I wish I would have started taking this a long time ago!

zumba... zumbafreak11

I agree wholeheartedly with mommytojack. I, personally, have depression.  If I didn't take my meds, I'd be a major bitch and more than likely one of the worst mothers ever.  With them, I'm calmer and yes, my DD still drives me crazy sometimes, but I don't feel all crazy when she does and feel like flipping out.  I think SOME parents truly do need medication just like SOME kids truly need medication.  Are they over prescribed?  Sometimes.  If you really need meds, it's Okay as long as they're been used as prescribed and not to get high or whatever...

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