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Empty Nest Syndrome: Meaning, Causes, Symptoms, How To Deal with

Empty Nest Syndrome

What Is Empty Nest Syndrome

Empty nest syndrome is a condition of grief and sadness that affects many parents when their child or children leave home or move out to stay separately for some reason. This condition has been observed to be more common in females or mothers than in fathers because mothers have a major role to play in the growth and development of their children.

The feelings of empty nest syndrome is usually that of strong sense of loss, grief, overpowering sadness and loneliness. When it is coupled with retirement or menopause, the condition can be worst.

Psychologists believe that it can take 8 months to 2 years for a person to get back to normal state of mind and recover from empty nest syndrome.

What Causes Empty Nest Syndrome

Empty nest syndrome is one of the most frequently afflicting conditions that parents are trying to cope up with. There could be various reasons that cause empty nest syndrome, such as children leaving the parental home because of a new job, relationship, marriage or problems in the household.

When parents are upset over their child, it might be possible for them to acquire support and sympathy from some sources. In most cases, empty nest syndrome is usually coupled with some other difficult conditions and significant changes occurring in the life of parents.

Parents who are deeply attached to their children are more susceptible to the condition and they might develop some symptoms characterized by stress & anxiety, emotional disturbances and ailing health.

Although women are more prone to empty nest syndrome, men can also be afflicted by the condition. 

Empty Nest Syndrome Symptoms

Empty nest syndrome is very common among parents who have recently been apart from their children because they have moved out of their homes due to some legitimate reasons. Despite understanding and knowing the cause of their departure, parents simply fail to control their overwhelming emotions and the absence of their children from the house makes them weak and emotionally upset.

There are many symptoms of empty nest syndrome and the condition is characteristically known to cause depression at its extreme forms. Some parents simply lose the desire to eat and drink, they fail to fall asleep and they only sit and stare at their children’s room, their belongings and live with their memories. They lose all hope and even their desire to live.

Parents, particularly mothers are likely to experience some common signs and symptoms of empty nest syndrome, as noted below:
 
Women become depressed as their child leaves home. They also find it extremely difficult to cope up with the sudden loneliness and eventually end up crying and losing interest in their life.
 
Sleeplessness and lower levels of energy are commonly seen in women with empty nest syndrome.
 
Parents often experience complications in their own relationships. The relationship between husband and wife, both mental and physical, is affected very badly due to empty nest syndrome.
 
A sense of emptiness and void in their marriage.

Feeling of uselessness, hopelessness and overall disturbed state of mind.

How Long Does Empty Nest Syndrome Last

As their children depart, the symptoms of empty nest syndrome starts building up. It might take a couple of days or weeks or months for the condition to start off at its highest. After the syndrome builds up, it is likely to last for months and months; some patients have been living with the symptoms for more than 2 years at a stretch.

Proper guidance, counseling and treatment can help in relieving the condition faster. But it all depends on how well the person has been responding to the treatment.

Empty nest syndrome: Effects on sexual health and Marital Satisfaction

Empty nest syndrome is a state of depression that has an effect on all the aspects of human life, including sexual relationships and marital satisfaction. The condition affect many parents whose children have left them and moved out, which is a normal course of life.

Depression makes it very difficult to have a normal and enjoyable sexual life. Empty nest syndrome affects the sexual health and overall mental and physical conditions of both the parents. Parents suffering from the condition must take care of themselves and the spouse in order to prevent bitterness in their relationship. It often happens that either of the parents might start blaming the other for their mental health condition, which is impractical and unjustified.

As the emotions of departing from the child/children are terribly distressing for the parents, either of the parents, mostly the mother, becomes upset. In order to cope up with the condition it is very important to have adequate support.

It is due to the depressed thoughts and overwhelming emotions that parents become emotionally weaker and that prevents them from having sexual encounter. Through counseling, medication and proper exposure, it is possible to treat empty nest syndrome and get back to normal life.

Empty Nest Syndrome and Marriage

Empty nest syndrome is one critical problem that can affect marriages, and it has been doing that for years now. There are many people whose marriages have lived because of their children; it was the children who kept them together as a couple. Couples having children often make small scarifies in life of their personal desires and wants in order to give their children a happy and healthy life. But as the kids grow up parents are generally left to themselves.

This is a crucial time when it becomes tough for the couples to deal with their anxiety and depression. If both the parents are suffering; they might try to stand by each other. However, if one is suffering and the other is not, seeing the sufferer in an abnormal state of mind makes the relationship bitter and strain. The empty nest syndrome sufferer might spend the whole day talking about their children and unnecessarily worrying about things that he/she cannot control. This leaves the spouse virtually alone.

As depression becomes stronger over time, the empty nest patient will only indulge in the thoughts of the children and will leave the partner behind. This will slowly start affecting the marriage dramatically until the other is treated with medications and therapies.

How To Deal with Empty Nest Syndrome

Parenting is the most engaging phase of every parent’s life. The changeover between parenthood of a teenager and that of adult is different and is difficult for parenting as well. As it is very important to emphasize on the role you have to play in the life of your child, it is also important to emphasize on yourself to survive the empty nest syndrome as your child leaves home.

Take your time to mourn and grief as your child leaves the home to settle down elsewhere. This is tough, but you need to get back to life and wish your child the very best in his life too.

People who are going through empty nest syndrome need to do certain things in order to keep themselves busy. Engage yourself to something constructive, may be your hobby, such as knitting, gardening, teaching or traveling.

Seek support from your family and friends and also support your spouse, as he/she is also going through the same phase in life. It is equally tough for both of you. So, stand by yourselves.

Learn something that interests you – computer courses, new cooking classes, yoga, dance (if that interests you), and other such added activities that will keep you busy. If both you partners can do it together, it’s even better!

Empty nest syndrome and counseling

Alike every other type of depression, empty nest syndrome can also benefit from counseling. The best treatment for depression is proper support and counseling.

Through counseling it is possible to bring out the inner emotions and feelings of the parents, which is essential for relieving them from the state of depression. As more and more mothers as well as fathers are developing empty nest syndrome as their child departs from their homes, parents often try to isolate themselves and remain indoors with the belongings of their children. It is a state of grief and sadness that cannot be recovered.

When family and friends try to speak to such afflicted parents, most of the times they will not get an answer. It is expert counselors who can understand the condition and make the affected parents speak up. Speaking and unveiling the emotions is very important for maintaining a healthy state of mind. It relieves depression and hidden feelings and also helps a person realize that the condition is just a passing phase.

It is very important for the empty nest syndrome patients to understand their condition; if both the parents are equally affected it can be a difficult situation. However, if just one of the partner is affected, it will be possible for the other to understand the symptoms and arrange for a counseling sessions, it might take a series of sessions to finally relieve the person of the condition.

Empty nest syndrome: How to avoid it?

Empty nest syndrome is the feeling of loneliness that the parents may experience after their children leave home. However, this is the time the parents can concentrate on one another.

If you are single this is the best time to look at yourself. There may be a number of things that you were not able to do because of lack of time while raising your kids. Now you have plenty of time to fulfill your previous desires. You may have sacrificed many of your needs like good clothes, wallets, purses, because of lack of money then. Now, it is time to look at your own demands and desires.

Good health gives a better feeling about one’s self. Hence, it is advised to join a gym. This also can provide you a chance of coming in contact with various people. A friends circle will help a lot in passing your time.

Journalism or writing proves to be a good idea of keeping yourself busy. You can even be an online blog writer. You may have discontinued with your education while raising your children. Continuing with it now will be beneficial for you.

Whenever you miss your children, you can have a talk with them over phone. Never wait for the children to call first. Your affection towards them will give you the utmost support to live without them.


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