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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Midlife Depression

Guest post by Wendy Bailey

Many men and women experience the effects of a midlife crisis, however, some go through emotional and physical changes that can cause severe depression. Midlife depression differs from a midlife crisis, and it can often be more debilitating than a typical midlife transition. Many circumstances can trigger depression in someone facing a midlife change, and there are numerous forms of treatment that vary according to the individual’s needs.

What is a Midlife Crisis?

A midlife crisis generally occurs near the age of 40. Some men and women experience the change of life much earlier or much later as well. While this is considered to be a natural part of growing older, some people have difficulties dealing with the changes. In many cases, men and women who are not capable of facing the transition may become clinically depressed. When the depression becomes severe, psychotherapy is often necessary.

What Triggers Midlife Depression?

Midlife depression is triggered by a number of internal and external stress factors. These triggers range from person to person to person, and they can be caused both positive and negative experiences. In most cases, the person affected does not realize the magnitude of each situation.

Internal stress factors include:

- Low self esteem
- Anger at a significant other
- Confusion about what the future holds
- Questions and fears about the meaning of life
- Sudden discontent or boredom with lifestyle or people
- Doubt about an intimate relationship
- A feeling that something is missing

External stress factors include:

- A sudden change in job requirements
- Weddings
- Births
- Financial issues
- Family emergencies
- The death or illness of a loved one
- Changes in health
- Relationship upsets

What are the Symptoms of Midlife Depression?

Everyone experiences midlife depression in a different way. Men and women face different challenges, and their reactions to these stresses differ as well. Because a number of people ignore the feelings that are brought on by depression, it is important to identify the symptoms in order to prepare a proper treatment.

Depression symptoms include:

- Hopelessness or extremely pessimistic views
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Guilty thoughts
- Feelings of extreme helplessness or suicidal thoughts
- Loss of interest in favorite activities
- Anxiety or restlessness
- A change in sleeping or eating patterns
- Chronic physical ailments such as stomach problems or headaches

How is Midlife Depression Treated?

There are many forms of treatment for midlife depression, and each person responds differently. For some, a proactive approach is all that is needed. One of the best ways to prevent depression or limit its effects is to develop a healthy lifestyle. Positive alterations in eating and exercise habits can go a long way when it comes to preventing depression. Another way to keep depression in check is to get plenty of regularly scheduled sleep.

Developing healthy relationships is also beneficial in preventing midlife depression. In later years, it is essential to have close relationships that are born from trust and compassion. Maintaining healthy relationships allows a person to lean on someone else in times of need. This can prevent many of the depression triggers from taking a firm hold on a person’s psyche.

When the feelings of depression become severe and life-altering, it may be necessary to seek the help of a professional. A therapist can use behavioral therapy or antidepressants to curb the harmful effects of depression. In most cases, midlife depression can be remedied when the right course of action is taken. Men and women struggling with midlife depression can find happiness with the proper treatments.

Rob Horlock has established The Mid Life Opportunity (, a community for people in Midlife. Advice and Guidance is available from The Mid Life Coaching Panel. It’s free to join - click here

1 comment:

  1. I might also add that mid-life challenges occur at 50 with the hormonal changes for both men and women. This can have a physical as well as an emotional affect on the person, making them vulnerable to depression.