Ask Dr Jennifer: I'm leaving Ireland and my mam has already becoming visibly upset and anxious
I’m the youngest child in my family of four siblings and am moving to London at the end of the month. I’m starting to worry about my mum, as she’s already becoming visibly upset and anxious about me leaving and her spending more time alone. I’ve read this referred to as ‘empty nest syndrome’ and wondering if it can be medically treated, or if you have some advice as to how I could prepare her before I go?
Answer: ‘Empty nest syndrome’ is a psychological condition or transition period for your mother and I am glad that you are concerned about her as you prepare to leave home. Clearly you have a good parent-child relationship and it will be important to find ways to maintain this when you settle into your new life in London. Have you talked about it with her much? Does she have many social supports in the form of friends or family nearby to spend more time with when you do leave? Does she have a career or hobby to return to when you leave?
It could take your mother approximately 18 months to adapt to her ‘empty nest’ and during this period she may experience some symptoms of mild depression. If her feelings become overwhelming, encourage her to talk to her GP or a therapist who can help her to better understand and manage her feelings. It’s always a good idea to seek guidance and advice from others who have recently gone through a similar process.
You should encourage your mother to stay positive, discuss her feelings and pursue her own interests or possibly even consider a new challenge. For medication, there is no one tablet that will ease this natural and appropriate adjustment you are both about to make, but try your best to keep in touch and meet up as often as possible.