Burning Question

Stay-at-home moms: More vulnerable to depression than working moms?

A quarter of stay-at-homes moms say they struggle with malaise, compared to just 16 percent of working moms, according to a new Gallup survey

Here's some fresh ammunition in the "mommy wars": According to a new Gallup poll, stay-at-home moms are more likely to report feeling sad and angry than working moms. Does this mean it's healthier for women to balance family life with a job outside the home, or is the picture more complicated? Here, a brief guide to the findings:

What exactly did the survey reveal?
A quarter of stay-at-home moms said they had felt sadness the day before the survey, compared to just 16 percent of working mothers. One-fifth of the stay-at-home moms reported having felt anger the day before, compared to 14 percent of working moms. And 28 percent of the stay-at-home moms said they had been diagnosed with depression, while just 17 percent of the working moms said so. The study included 61,000 respondents.

Did moms say why they felt glum?
No. But if you sort through the poll responses by income, says Lisa Belkin at The Huffington Post, "it becomes clear that money, not [employment status], has the largest impact on a woman's mental health." Both working and stay-at-home moms are far more likely to describe themselves as "struggling" — and far less likely to say they're "thriving" — if their household income is less than $36,000.

So... what's the lesson?
The authors of the study say the real takeaway is that we need more affordable child care options, to ensure that low-income stay-at-home moms are in that role by choice, not economic necessity. And, the authors say, society needs to recognize what a hard job at-home moms have. Then it might be easier for them to get the emotional support they need, and deserve.

Sources: Frisky, Gallup, Huffington Post, New York Times, Reason

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