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Maternal Burnout: What It Is and How to Deal with It

Maternal Burnout: What It Is and How to Deal with It

Burnout has been an occupational disease since 2022, but it can also affect mothers in situations of overload and stress

In 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) recognized burnout as an occupational disease. That is, a consequence of work. Since then, the syndrome has been widely discussed, opening the space to address the emergence of derivative phenomena, such as maternal burnout.

For psychologist with a degree in neuropsychology, Aslan Alves, the topic is gaining more and more attention as the psychological and emotional impact of motherhood on women’s mental health is increasingly recognized.

“This type of exhaustion does not only affect working mothers, as is often associated with professional burnout, but involves all mothers, including those who dedicate themselves entirely to caring for their children,” she emphasizes.

The condition, according to the specialist, is characterized by symptoms such as extreme exhaustion, emotional distance from children, irritability, insomnia, lack of pleasure in daily activities, and a feeling of ineffectiveness and hopelessness in the maternal role.

However, the impact extends beyond mothers to children. “Children whose mothers are experiencing burnout may have more behavioral and emotional problems, reflecting the negative impact of the stressful family environment,” Aslan points out.

Mothers of children on the spectrum

Maternal burnout can be particularly intense for mothers of atypical children. In other words, with special needs, related to neurodevelopment or neurological conditions, highlights the psychologist specializing in the treatment of children with autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Children with autism, Down syndrome, ADHD, cerebral palsy, among other conditions, require constant and often intense attention and care, Aslan says.

“The constant demand for specialized care, the need to interact with multiple health care providers, managing therapies and treatments, and the constant concern for the well-being and development of the child can lead to a very high level of chronic stress,” says the expert.

For these mothers, social support may be insufficient. This is because they are often isolated. Both due to the lack of understanding from family and friends, and the difficulty in participating in common social activities due to the special needs of their children.

“This social isolation can intensify feelings of overload and fatigue. In addition, the lack of time for self-care and the guilt for feeling tired or frustrated can further exacerbate burnout,” warns the professional.

How to fight the problem

For Aslan, the lack of maternity support policies, such as adequate maternity leave and work flexibility, contributes to this scenario. Furthermore, competition on social media can also increase feelings of inadequacy and burnout. This is because it is a space where many mothers feel forced to show an idealized image of motherhood.

To combat maternal burnout, more robust and comprehensive support is essential. “This includes public policies that offer real support to mothers, intervention and prevention programs, and a stronger social support network,” says the professional.

In this sense the psychologist recommends:

  • Promote self-care and mental health among mothers;
  • Recognize the different needs of mothers, in different contexts;
  • Investments in psychological support programs, such as support groups or individual therapy;
  • Stress management and relaxation techniques;
  • Active involvement of families and partners in supporting mothers, sharing responsibilities and recognising the daily work they do.

“Valuing the role of mothers in society and creating a culture of empathy and support can significantly alleviate the pressure that many mothers feel. Mothers must understand the importance of seeking professional help when necessary, placing their mental health as a priority, as well as the harmony and health of the family depends on it”, concludes the specialist.

Source: Terra

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