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Should people suffering from depression have children?

Updated on April 17, 2013

This is a question I have been struggling with a lot lately. Granted, I am only in my first year of college (3 weeks left!) so I am not planning on reproducing any mini-me's soon, but that doesn't mean I haven't thought about it for later down the road.

First, some background info - I am in a serious (2 year) relationship with an amazing guy whom I plan to marry. That said, he has severe clinical depression, as well as generalized anxiety disorder, and some slight social anxiety. He's is on anti-depressants, but it's not a cure-all. This past week has been especially difficult, to the point where he couldn't even drag himself out of bed to go to work, or even to eat. (See my hub on depression here --> http://bangell08.hubpages.com/hub/When-a-Loved-One-has-Depression)

As for me, I have always been on the melancholy side as well. It has never been as severe, or as consistent, as my boyfriend's - but it's still there. It's been there from my childhood (family issues), through my teen years (lost a classmate to suicide) and seems to be getting much worse now that I am in my college years.


First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage. [Although, in today's society, not always in that order.] That's what is expected of people, and that's what I want for my life. Or do I?

I do. I want kids. I want to feel that joy of being a mother, of bringing a little person into the world, caring for them, watching them grow up, being proud of who they become .... And, watching my boyfriend interact with his nieces and nephews, I know that he will be a great father. He's great with kids, and loves babies.

But, this imaginary future scenario of my life doesn't include depression. And like it or not, [obviously, not] it is a very real part of both my and my boyfriend's lives.

So, the question appears before me: should depressed people have children?

To be honest, I don't know. I haven't figured it out for myself yet.

To tell the truth, I'm terrified.

In a perfect world, where I'm happy and my boyfriend is happy, we are happily married with happy kids. But that's not reality. The reality is, he couldn't get out of bed this week, because he was too depressed.

[Note: I am not angry at him, disappointed in him, or blaming him for this. I know he can't help how he feels. I know he doesn't want to be this way. I know what depression is like. I know he'd change it if he could.]

I don't want our kids to go through the pain, confusion, and helplessness of having to see him - or me - like that.

As I said, I'm no happy-go-lucky person myself. And I know that I would try my best for my kids, but would that be enough? I grew up in a difficult family, with parents who fought constantly and didn't seem to care about me at all. My father was violent at times. I know that the situation wouldn't be the same, but I still wouldn't want to subject my children to a "difficult childhood."

I wouldn't want to have to tell them,

"Not now, honey, Mommy's having a bad day..."

...or have to try to explain to them why Daddy is so sad all the time. I wouldn't want them to witness either of us having a panic attack, or have to drop them off at Grandma's because we just couldn't deal with life that day.

Then there's genetics. Both of my boyfriend's parents suffered from depression, as did both of his brothers (for a short time). I don't know my family history very well, but I do know that I wouldn't want to be the start of a genetic chain of depression.

Because, it is genetic. There's been research done on that and while it wouldn't be 100% that my imaginary children would have depression, it would be very likely - especially with two depressed parents, one of whom already has a family history of it.

I don't want to have to see my kids go through what I've gone through, what I see my boyfriend go through. I don't want to have to wonder, when I bring home my little boy or girl from the hospital that first day, if one day I will be bringing them home from the hospital for another reason.

It's heartbreaking to think about.

But all the same, I want kids. I want to be a mother. Is it right for me to want that, when I could potentially be putting my children at risk?

So, should depressed people have children?

Right now, I don't know. What do you think? Post your thoughts in the comments below.

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    • profile image

      Just trying to help 3 years ago

      Just check to see if he is not having alcohol or other drugs secretly. A very big cause of depression in the mornings.

    • profile image

      pina 4 years ago

      I would like to state that parenting in general requires both parents that are emotionally and financially stable. Depression or any mentally illness effects others and the people around us and primarily is genetic and passed down to future generations. I cannot prove that statement but I have seen it happen within families. I truly feel that prayer and mediation and going to a church that believes in deliverance ministry is a start that is born again is a great benefit and seeing a psychologist and couples counselor to deal and discuss your present issues.

    • ambieca profile image

      Amber 4 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I have been in your place so to speak from both points of view. My mom has had some issues with depression since i was a child, she was always functioning well, and took very good care of my sister and I. She has always taken good care of herself and known her limitations. For this I commend her because it can be difficult. On the other hand my husband has depression and anxiety more like your boyfriend. We have two children ages 7 and 4 and I can tell you it has been tough. I would never say that I wouldn't do it all over again because I love him and my kids are everything to me. On the other hand I feel that I am mentally strong enough to keep myself afloat when times get tough. It can be tough to have a baby that needs you all the time and there will be times you may feel isolated and alone taking care of this child while your partner gets through their rough spot. If you have enough family support, his AND yours and are financially stable give it a go with caution. Maybe have only one child and let it be. Maybe wait a little longer than you might have originally to have kids to ensure a routine as a stable married couple. Also have some resources in place such as counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist to call if you feel you or he is not functioning well. Just have a plan for each senario so that you do not get taken off guard and feel in complete crisis if one of you needs help.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 4 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      You have posed a very good question here. My husband and I did not have depression issues (at least neither of us were diagnosed or knew of these issues) when we were married. Now, after 35 years of marriage, I have been through mental health treatment several times, and he as well as several of our children have been diagnosed with mental health issues. Just like families with physical maladies, we do our best to prepare and prevent, but that still does not predict what will happen in the future. Family life is difficult, at its best. We have seven beautiful children and seven wonderful grandchildren. We would not trade them for anything. We have helped our children to understand where they have come from, what we have been through, and given them recommendations to follow if they are faced with mental health challenges. It has helped all of us.

    • Jewels profile image

      Jewels 4 years ago from Australia

      The question applies to any genre of human personality disorders and disabilities and as such would not likely pass legislation if that was the path considered. In this article you are looking for opinions? In some women having a child can be the very thing that could knock you out of the depressive state - having to put your energies primarily toward the welfare of another can take your malaise away from yourself. However, there is no guarantee this would happen.

      It is true that many many parents are not prepared or suitably stable to raise children however, there isn't a standard set of rules that safeguard unsuspecting infants from the insecurity they may be born into.

      Even so, you can have the most stable of parents who also do a terrible job of raising children. So where do you draw the line?

      I hope you can get on top of your depression and the decision is not so difficult to make.