Should Depressed People Avoid Having Children?

Few women will ever be in this position, however at one point in my life I was asked to donate my eggs to a person who was having tremendous fertility difficulties. I was in my early 30’s. Although I love the person who asked and was physically healthy as a horse, I immediately and adamantly declined the request for the sole reason I decided never to potentially pass along the suffering that comes with having a mental illness. Since my own Bipolar struggle increased ten-fold after my pregnancy and my son suffers from depression, to this day I am very much a peace with my decision not to donate my eggs.

Should depressed people avoid having children?

It’s a compelling and very individual question. There isn’t any doubt that for some depression is the catalyst for greatness. But, at a very high price. Whatever your opinion, I applaud Sarah Silverman for her candor. She certainly knows herself better than most of the people I’m acquainted with, mental illness sufferers or not.

I agree. My mental troubles not necessarily depression but other mental illness I blame on myself for my sons OCD adn my daughters BPD. My daughter married a man with ADHD and with Asburgers syndrome. As much as I want greandchildren, my daughter and I agree that it could be a terrible mistake for her and her husband to have any.

It’s a hard subject to tackle – thanks for responding – I think your daughter and her husband are being very responsible. I give them a lot of credit.

I don’t want kids enough, or value my intelligence and creativity enough, to pass on bipolar to a kid. To me, that would be nothing short of cruel and selfish.

I feel exactly as DeeDee does: I never wanted children. I decided when I was 16 that my family was messed up enough that I didn’t want to risk bringing a child into this world if I couldn’t take care of it properly. This was long before my diagnosis. Although people tell me I would have made a great mom, I question this because I know my husband sometimes has trouble with my mood swings and he is an adult. Once I had a diagnosis, I knew that I wouldn’t be comfortable bringing a child with those genetic possibilities into the world. I feel it would be selfish and most definitely cruel.

I also want to say that my feelings towards children apply to me only. I don’t blame anyone (bipolar or not) who wishes to bring children into the world. I wish them the best of luck. I think a bipolar parent can be a good parent, I just don’t think that I would make a good parent.

Completely understood. I am finding more and more people I know with mental illness take this position. From my unscientific polling point of view, it seems to be more common to not want to have kids if you’ve been diagnosed. And, there’s nothing wrong with not wanting kids! As a society we’re almost forced into having them. It takes a lot of courage to walk the walk. Good for you!!

I know there are LOTS of unstable mothers out there, but I didn’t want to be one of them. I didn’t want to do that to a child. Then, when I found out I had a potentially inheritable mental disorder, it only reaffirmed my decision.
I understand that with the right support and nurturing environment, kids with depression or BP could learn to cope with their illness, but why stack the deck against them from the very beginning? There are plenty of genius creatives out there who don’t have to struggle with mental illness. It’s not like we would eliminate that from the world.

Hey, Sandy – great point. I also don’t believe we would eliminate genius (academic or creative) by choosing not to pass along a mental illness. We’re being responsible and kind. Thanks for the comment 🙂

Having children is a topic I have considered on & off for most of my life. My brother is bipolar 1 and I am bipolar 2 with rapid cycling. I decided it was my dad that it was passed on the gene.
The bipolar symtoms began to present themselves when I was in high school.
For me, I have a dozen other issues with my body that I wouldn’t want to pass on. Liver disease, acute renal failure caused by a genetic issue, fibromyalgia, etc.
I literally have gone through the alphabet and listed the issue(s) for each letter. I guess I should be glad I can’t find anything to fill X & Z slots.
I call my body the falling down house or at least that’s how I feel. With every new diagnosis, I feel like eventually the roof will cave in on me and there won’t be anything left to spackle. I flat out refuse to doom someone else to live the life I live. No child deserves that and I couldn’t watch them suffer.
It hurts my husband and his family, but which is better a child who suffers or no children at all?

My Mother (who was undiagnosed Bipolar) suffered from a lot of the same afflictions as you do. It’s tough when your body is trying to be your enemy – it was hard to watch my Mom be in pain every day. I hope you’re feeling as well as can be. Thanks for commenting!

This is quite a lead-in. You do a fine job addressing what is a most controversial and painful topic. I fundamentally believe that depressed people can parent as well as most, if their illness is managed. The question of the eggs brings up a whole different arena for discussion, as it raises the question of precisely how genetic the illness is, particularly in regards to interaction with environment. But in terms of depressed parents raising their own children, I know many many men and women who have done superlative jobs.


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