Empty Nest Syndrome

Empty nest syndrome refers to the mental disturbances experienced by parents, when their children left home for studies or for other reasons. Given appropriate time and mental support, the symptoms of this psychological condition can be overcome effectively.
PsycholoGenie Staff
Empty nest syndrome is a psychological problem that affects parents when their sons or daughters leave home for an extended period. It encompasses loneliness, sadness, empty feeling, and alike symptoms. Women, being the primary caregiver of kids, are more prone to this syndrome as compared to men. Though a not so serious mental illness, the incidences of doctor visits are higher during autumn due to this syndrome. This is when large number of teenagers and young adults leave home for college or further studies.

What is Empty Nest Syndrome?

This medical term is coined from the nesting habits of birds. It is not unusual for a mother or father to feel lonely after their child leaves home for the first time. In general, the condition is used to signify lonely feeling amongst parents, when their children no longer stay with them. But, the causal reasons may be varied for different cases; while some feel lonely as soon as their children start going to college, others manifest the same after their child got married. In the latter case, parents (especially mothers) cannot cope up with the thought that they are less important in their child's life.

Symptoms

Considering the main cause, it won't be wrong to say that this psychological condition and depression are related to each other. The signs of emptiness and lonely feeling are more pronounced amongst parents, who share a strong bonding with their children. In some of them, the symptoms become so bad that many afflicted parents seek help from their general physician. Some of the notable symptoms of this syndrome are listed below:
  • Crying or weeping excessively for a prolonged period, for a week or so.
  • A general feeling that life has become meaningless.
  • Affects social gathering or meeting with friends and relatives.
The above listed signs may continue for as long as 18 months to 2 years. Thus, getting the help of a counselor or friend is of utmost importance to cope up with this psychological condition. If remain untreated or unchecked, it may worsen and cause separation anxiety and major depression.

How to Deal with Empty Nest Syndrome?

As we see, this syndrome is associated with notable mental disturbances. In case, symptoms become worse or persist for more than a week, do not feel hesitant to take the doctor's help. Dealing with loneliness and sadness depends on the underlying factors responsible for the said problems. In women, it is quite likely that sadness feeling resulted due to children separation is accompanied with other health conditions, like menopause symptoms and mental worries for taking care of elderly parents.

The best way to deal with loneliness and depression is prepare oneself for the big transition in life. In your case, you can collect information pertaining to this condition before it is time to send your children to college. Keep yourself firm about your child's requirements and priorities, either joining college for his/her future career or getting married to settle down in life. When it is time for your child to move out of home, understand the fact that it is a normal phase that every parent passes through in life.

Talk to your spouse, friends and family member, so that you remain occupied most of the time. You can think of joining support groups and seek guidance about coping tips from people who have already undergone through the same situation. Make friends, develop new hobbies, keep a pet at home, or get involved in other socializing activities to remain busy. Likewise, find other ways to fight loneliness. Be positive towards life and plan ahead for family events, vacation trips, or visiting your children. Last but not the least, talk to your children on a regular basis.

Generally speaking, the occurrence rate of empty nest syndrome is increased in modern times. The main reason for this is increased rate of nuclear families, which in turn cause loneliness amongst elderly members of the family. Giving time, reappraising self-esteem, and looking forward with positive thoughts are some of the tips to deal with lonely feeling and lead a cheerful life.