Being Supermom Can Hit Your Mental Health

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WASHINGTON – Working moms please take note: Trying to be a “supermom” by combining work and family life seamlessly could be bad for your mental health, scientists say.

Researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle found that working is good for mothers’ mental health, but supermoms who want to be perfect at home as well as at work have higher rates of depression compared with those who let things slide.

“Ascribing to an ideal that women can do it all actually increased the level of depressive symptoms compared to women who are more skeptical of whether or not work and family can be balanced,” study researcher Katrina Leupp told LiveScience.

For their research, Leupp and her team analysed survey responses from 1,600 married women who participated in a large survey called the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth.

In 1987, the women answered questions to gauge their support of women’s employment, including whether they agreed with statements such as “Women are much happier if they stay at home and take care of their children.” In 1992 and 1994, the now 40-year-old women answered questions about their symptoms of depression.

Like earlier studies, the survey data showed that women who worked outside the home had fewer symptoms of depression, perhaps because it gives them more social interaction, more varied activities and a larger income, Leupp said.