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Depression Busters: Dealing with the Mid-Life Crisis

written by: Debbie Roome • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 7/20/2011

A mid-life crisis or depression is commonly experienced by men and women, albeit in slightly different forms. Read on for tips on how to overcome the problems that accompany this time of life.

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    Definition of a Mid-Life Crisis or Depression

    The type of depression that accompanies a mid-life crisis is generally caused by internal factors rather than external influences. In some cases, however, menopause is a contributing factor. A typical mid-life depression will manifest differently in men and women with some of the symptoms being as follows:

    Men

    • Affairs with younger women
    • Depression
    • Anger and irritability
    • Hostility and conflict
    • Demands respect
    • Restless and agitated
    • Sleeplessness
    • Controlling
    • Afraid of speaking out doubts and fears
    • Fear of failure
    • Self treats with TV, alcohol, sport and sex
    • Shame
    • Loss of libido

    Women

    • Feelings of sadness and worthlessness
    • Avoids conflict
    • Feels like a failure
    • Withdraws from social contact
    • Feelings of guilt and lack of self respect
    • Self treats with food, friends and love
    • Sleep problems

    A mid-life crisis usually lasts for a few years and results in permanent changes in lifestyle. Whether these are positive or negative is an individual choice.

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    Identifying a Mid-Life Crisis

    Depression in mid-life often arises when a person is in their 40s or 50s. It is at this stage of life that men and women realize they are ageing and their physical strength and appearance will be declining gradually. This realization leads to some of the behavior that is often seen during a mid-life depression. Men tend to have affairs and women may indulge in plastic surgery and dramatic keep-fit programs. By their 40s, most men and women are financially secure and established in a career. During a mid-life crisis they question if this is all there is to life and may feel bored and let down. Others may be disappointed with what they have achieved and frustrated by a loveless marriage. What they do at this point will determine how their lives will look in years to come.

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    How to Overcome Depression and a Mid-Life Crisis

    There are a number of ways men and women can overcome a mid-life depression:

    • Visit your doctor for a checkup. This will determine if there are any health issues that need addressing. Some people with this type of depression benefit from a short course of antidepressant medication to tide them through difficult patches. Hormone replacement therapy can help women suffering from menopause-related depression.
    • Join the AA or a support group if you are struggling with addictions or are overindulging in food, alcohol, smoking, gambling or sex. It is easier to overcome these problems when sharing how they affect you with people who understand your struggles.
    • Confiding in a friend who you know experienced a mid-life depression can be helpful – especially if they had a positive outcome. Most people are more than willing to share their experiences and offer support to those going through something similar.
    • Regard a mid-life depression as an opportunity to re-evaluate goals, dreams and ambitions in life. Look at job satisfaction, leisure time and relationships, and if necessary, make some changes and plan for positive change. People who lose focus are more susceptible to depression and dreams give them something to reach for.
    • Accept that while ageing is a natural process, it doesn’t mean the end of enjoying life. There is nothing wrong with trying to improve matters by dieting, giving up smoking or exercising more, but there must be a realization that ageing does bring limitations and bodily changes. Wrinkles, weight gain and hair loss don’t have to signal the end of a fulfilling life or career.
    • Joining a gym, taking up a new hobby or meeting different people can give a fresh spark to life. Don’t sit at home feeling depressed. Get out and try a number of new activities until you find one that suits you.
    • Take some time out to do something different with your spouse or loved ones. This can be as simple as a day out in the country or a trip overseas. Marital difficulties commonly arise during a mid-life depression and working on love and togetherness can protect against this.
    • A mid-life depression may coincide with and be exacerbated by children leaving home. Use this as a time to do things you have always wanted to do but didn’t have the time, money or freedom to enjoy in your younger years.
    • Go on a mission trip or volunteer at a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Giving of yourself and your time can be extremely inspiring and will certainly change your perspective on life and your appreciation of your personal situation.

    There is no need to suffer in silence while experiencing mid-life depression. There is help available and individuals can make adjustments that transform this period of life into a positive experience where they set the course for future years.

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    References

    MedClick. http://www.medclick.co.uk/content/article/174/The-Midlife-Crisis-What-Is-It/7

    Male Health. http://www.malehealth.co.uk/node/18837

    Male Depression. http://www.midlife-passages.com/depressi.htm

    Good to Know. http://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/relationships/273583/Midlife-crisis--How-to-help-yourself

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