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Ways to deal with “empty nest syndrome”

09-08 | DTC Team

Ways to deal with “empty nest syndrome”

“Empty nest syndrome” is a phenomenon witnessed among parents once their children turn into young adults and leave home for other pursuits, such as college, job, career or marriage. After separation from their children, parents or caregivers have to endure a number of emotional and lifestyle adjustments.

This syndrome, also referred to as post-parental period, alternates between a combination of different emotions, such as separation anxiety, sadness, depression, satisfaction and possibility of adventure. It is, however, not a clinical diagnosis.

Although parents generally encourage their children to become independent, this stage can be a painful experience for parents to let go off their children to a separate world about which they would have limited information and where they have a limited role to play.

While going through such a major transitional phase, one is recommended to spend time with family, friends, etc., particularly people who gave gone through the same trying phase. Rather than indulging in negative thinking and being constantly worried about his or her child, he or she should develop new interests to keep depressive symptoms at bay.

Emotions inflicted by empty nest

It is natural for parents to miss their children after they move away. Since parents would invariably have the habit of checking on their children multiple times each day, talking and discussing matters with them, serving them their meals and cooking their favorite dishes, such a sudden change inflicts a feeling of loss as they have none to look forward to.

During this phase, a parent may also worry incessantly about his or her child’s safety and whereabouts, such as whether he or she is able to handle things all by himself or herself. Exaggerated fears and thoughts triggered by the above concerns would take a toll on a parent’s mental stability. The changes can stir up the feeling of loss and emptiness. One becomes vulnerable to depression, anxiety, alcoholism, identity crisis and marital conflicts during this crucial phase.

The following tips can be beneficial for parents going through this syndrome:

· Preparing in advance–At least a year in advance, the children should be taught some basic skills that would be required while staying away from home. Even if a child leaves, when there is no advance preparation, a parent should accept it with enthusiasm for his or her child’s sake.

· Exploring ways to keep in touch–Parents may feel tempted to call more frequently, but they need to abstain themselves from doing so to allow their children to find their own foothold. Both parents and children should draw up a mutually agreed weekly call-in time, besides determining other modes of conversations, such as e-mail and texting. However, parents should not expect prompt replies.

· Discovering one’s own needs and passions–Since parenting is a full-time responsibility, it might leave a little scope for a parent to pursue his or her dreams and passions. Parents can reignite their old hobbies or develop new hobbies, as they would have more time to themselves. They can now invest more time in knowing their spouses and spending time together.

· Difficulty in achieving normalcy–If a parent still struggles to come to terms with an empty nest, it is time to seek support from his or her loved ones, close contacts or friends who might be going through a similar experience.

Road to recovery

This phase in life does not signal the end of parent-child relationship, instead it has a positive angle to it. If apathetic feelings linger on beyond a month or so after a child has flown away from the nest, it becomes crucial to seek help from a trained therapist or mental health professional to prevent sinking into further depression.

If you or your loved one is suffering from the symptoms of depression, it is imperative to seek professional help. The Depression Treatment Helpline of Colorado assists in accessing the best depression treatment centers in Colorado that specialize in delivering evidence-based intervention plans. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-427-5668 or chat online with our advisers to know more about the depression treatment in Colorado.


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