Table of Content
What is Empty Nest Syndrome?
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Empty nest syndrome is a feeling of sadness, depression, loneliness and grief endured by the parents and caregivers after their kids leave their home and are at a stage of taking care of themselves. Additionally, It is a psychological condition (not a clinical condition or illness) that affects both the parents.
Being a parent, you might want your child to get a good education and become independent, the experience of when your child leaves for a boarding school or off to college can bring emotions on the surface and you might find it painful.
For some parents, it is hard to accept that their child is no longer dependent on them for every small thing, be it a meal or playtime or studies. It brings a feeling of emptiness that leads to anxiety, depression, and alcoholism if not addressed properly.
You might feel worried about your child’s safety and whether they will be able to adjust to the new place. If you have only one child, you might have a hard time adjusting to the transition if your child leaves a little earlier than what you expected. As the name suggests, you might have a tough time adjusting to the empty nest.
For parents, the condition is perilous and it involves feeling uncomfortable, and ungrounded for several years.
Are some parents more susceptible than others?
Research suggests that some parents are more susceptible to empty nest syndrome than others including:
- Those who find living alone a difficult and emotional experience.
- Parents who have disturbance in their marriages.
- Parents, who rely on their parental roles for self-identity.
- Those who are full-time parents are likely affected by ENS.
- Parents who see their children as dependent.
Causes of empty nest syndrome
The causes of empty nest syndrome may vary among parents. Some of them include:
- Worrying about the safety and well-being of the children and how they would cope with the new environment.
- A sense of losing parental responsibility when their child leaves the home.
- Feeling of silence in the home due to immeasurable loss of joy and enthusiasm of the children.
Understanding more about empty nest syndrome will help understand this phase of life and accept this situation more wisely.
Effects of Empty Nest Syndrome On Parents and Caregivers
Researchers have found that parents and caregivers who deal with ENS, experience an immense sense of loss which may trigger vulnerable types of behavioural symptoms as follows,
- Feeling of sadness
- Social isolation
- Anxiety/ Stress
- Loss of purposelessness
- Sense of insecurity
- Endless worry/ Guilt
Empty nest syndrome is not limited to mothers, in fact, both parents can experience grief and pain when a child leaves the home. However, the manner in which this grief manifests can differ based on the gender. While women may feel isolated and depressed and experience social alienation, the father may turn to alcohol or other forms of substance abuse . Empty Nest Syndrome can prompt suicidal thoughts in parents at advanced stages, hence it is essential to identify these symptoms and seek timely treatment.
Dealing with Empty Nest Syndrome
Empty Nest Syndrome is nothing to be ashamed of. It is perfectly okay to express your emotions being a mother or a father. We are wired to be protective of our children so we are bereft when they leave us.
With that being said, it is necessary to move forward with the emotions and rekindle with your friends, peers and social circle. Both partners should support each other in the process of grieving. Here are a few ways in which parents can cope healthily with Empty Nest Syndrome.
Stay busy- In order to overcome ENS, it is essential to redirect the attention towards the subjects that might make you feel engaged.Create some hobbies, perform activities, meet up with old friends or relatives. Involve in the physical activities like outdoor games, yoga, meditation or jogging.
Keep in touch with the children- The big benefit we have in this today’s world is the scientific advancement. Make a regular contact through text, calls (there are more apps available to make video calls too), emails and frequent visits. If these actions exceed, the mother might become too clingy (emotionally dependent). Ensure to hold healthy guidelines within the limit that won’t take the freedom and independence of the child. Hence, schedule a time frame that allows both to maintain a close relationship even when the child is away.
Revive the romance- Although the struggle with grief and loneliness is a big challenge, it also opens the door of opportunity to rekindle the romantic relationship. Spend time with each other, take each other out on dates, take a vacation. Turn back the clock to the wooing stage of the relationship.
Plan a vacation or trip- One of the difficulties that empty nester endures is their own home, after the departure of the children. The home can act as a trigger for memories associated with children that can bring on grief. Plan a vacation or a trip that can make you feel better. A change of environment, allowing yourself to explore a new place, could be a refreshing experience.
Accept the change- Make a journal and write down how you feel or write about what you are thankful for. This exercise will make you feel more positive and inspire a sense of gratitude.
Empty Nest Syndrome FAQs
Q1: How can I prepare myself for an empty nest?
Ans: You can prepare in advance for an empty nest by structuring your days. It is good to connect with others, socialize more and work on things you have missed out for years because of your parental role. This is the best time to rekindle with lost relationships.
Q2: What are some signs and symptoms of empty nest syndrome?
Ans: They are some common signs that can help recognize if you have an empty nest syndrome:
- You feel a loss of purpose
- You are frustrated over lack of control
- You break into tears
- Constant anxiety about how your child will get by
Q3: When should I seek help?
Ans: If you are experiencing depressive symptoms for longer than two weeks, consider seeking treatment from your doctor. Talk to your partner about your feeling of an “empty nest” and take timely professional support.
Why Choose Cadabams for Treatment?
When the times are challenging, we think they will last forever, but eventually, they don’t. Talk about this transitional period of your life with your partner and best friends. At Cadabams, we understand that this feeling of loss can take a toll on your daily life and other social relations. Our team of expert psychiatrists, psychologists, family therapists ensure that you get all the help you need and deserve. Our solution-oriented treatment plans help ensure that your symptoms are managed properly. Our family and couples counseling therapy can help you overcome the situation in a healthy manner.
If you or anyone you know is suffering from signs of empty nest syndrome, reach out to us on our 24x7 helpline +91 9611194949 and our clinical team will get in touch with you.
1.What do you do if you have empty nest syndrome?
Ans. Empty Nest Syndrome a feeling of sadness, depression, loneliness and grief endured by the parents and caregivers after their kids leave their home. Overcoming empty nest syndrome can be done by staying busy, keeping in touch with your children, reviving the romance and by planning a vacation or trip.
2.What age group is empty nest syndrome associated with?
Ans. The age group most associated with empty nest syndrome is between 40 - 50. At this age, children usually go on to pursue studies or careers which causes parents or individuals to feel abandoned.
3.What do empty nesters do?
4.Can empty nest syndrome cause anxiety?
Ans. Empty nest syndrome can cause anxiety in parents and caregivers. It can also cause feelings of social isolation, loss of purpose, endless worry, guilt and in some cases it can lead to depression as well. It is also associated with increased boredom and a sense of insecurity.