Sleepless nights, restless days… This is usually what happens when you are raising small kids. Regular feedings, dirty house, changing diapers, chaos and confusion become the rule of the day if you have a lil’ champ at your home. Sometimes it does feel great looking at the innocent and funny nuances of your child. However, sometimes it is difficult to balance life amid the nuisance too. Gradually days, months and years seem to move on and on in your constant oscillation between the nuance and nuisance. One bright day, you will be able to see that your child has already grown up and he/she is ready to leave home and explore his/her experiential world. The house and clothes will no longer be dirty, no more changing diapers or cleaning, no more spilling and spitting… This situation or insight comes as a major blow to majority of parents and caretakers. They fall prey to what is referred to as “Empty Nest Syndrome”. The word nest connotes a family staying together.

Empty nest syndrome refers to the feeling or symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, concern, hopelessness, loneliness and sadness that is experienced by parents/caretakers when their children or grown up sons and daughters leave home. Usually full-time mothers and caretakers are the ones who are more susceptible to suffer from empty nest syndrome. However, sometimes fathers also experience the symptoms particularly when they are not ready for the transition of their offspring leaving home and the emotions related to it.

Empty nest syndrome may be unknown to many of you, but knowingly or unknowingly we all go through this situation and experiences related to it. If left untreated, empty nest syndrome can lead to major clinical complications in the form of anxiety, stress, depression, cognitive issues, problems in focus, concentration, hopelessness ‘n’ helplessness, addiction and so on. In short, this syndrome affects all dimension of life of an individual, viz. personal, social, professional etc.

Now let us look into some of the common factors that cause Empty Nest Syndrome. Once you know the causes, you can deal with it or prevent the same effectively too:

Causes of Empty Nest Syndrome

  • Children leaving home for the first time
  • Young adults leaving home for university or profession
  • Death of a loved one
  • General anxiety and so on

Symptoms of Empty Nest Syndrome

  • Anxiety and worrying about one’s children
  • Constant negative apprehensions
  • Depression
  • Guilt feelings
  • Loss of purpose in life
  • Feelings of rejection
  • Loss of interest
  • Social withdrawal
  • Changes in sleep and diet
  • Lack of personal care
  • Stress
  • Inability to work on the different aspects of personal, social, professional life, etc

Management of Empty Nest Syndrome

Empty Nest Syndrome can be managed and treated if you take proper steps towards the same. Here are some of the important ways that you can use for dealing with it:

Ways to deal with Empty Nest Syndrome

  • Talk to your friend or someone who can motivate you, understand your feelings and comfort you as well
  • Try to be more active during the free time that you get. Pursuing a hobby or anything that you now but had not been able to do it for long also helps
  • If the situation permits you, then keeping a pet with you is also an amazing way to deal with empty nest syndrome
  • Maintain a journal about your feelings , good memories with your children, an album of good times spent with loved ones… Writing and maintaining all these rejuvenates you from within and helps you to deal with the syndrome effectively
  • Spending more time with your spouse or partner after your children have left… gives both of you a chance to replenish your relationship, strengthen your relationship, share your thoughts-pains-emotions and make your relationship worthwhile.
  • Never hesitate to take professional help if you find that you are not being able to cope with empty nest syndrome.

Empty nest syndrome is no more untreatable. Starting from personal self-help to professional help… You can get over it and lead a healthy life ahead.

More than distance or proximity… It is the strength of the bond that counts