Why is Midlife So Depressing?

Research shows that that midlife blues are fairly common. Everyone is subject to them, whether male or female, married or single, with or without children, or rich or poor. Fortunately, one study by researchers from Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., and the University of Warwick in Coventry, England suggests that, while the middle of one’s life is more depressing than the beginning, happiness shoots back up after the dreaded midlife period is over. But what is the cause of of midlife depression?  

Depression In Women  

While the “midlife crisis” typically conjures images of a man in his 50s purchasing a sports car or divorcing and running off with a younger woman, it is actually women who suffer most emotionally during the midlife period. According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women between the ages of 40 and 59 outstrip all other age groups and gender groups for depression. Much of this has to do with largely biological factors such as infertility and hormone fluctuation. This is particularly true of the emotional state of women during the postpartum period and menopause. Of course, visible signs of aging, such as the appearance of wrinkles and the onset of weight gain, frequently become a source of distress for women (as well as men) who long for their years of youth.  

Depression In Men  

While depression is more commonly reported among women in the aforementioned age group, statistics are perhaps even more sobering for men. According to The Samaritans Suicide Statistics report for 2014, men aged 40-44 are the demographic group with the highest rate of suicide. But what is at the root of their midlife depression? As with women, depression in men can result from devastating life changes such as long-term illness, bereavement, divorce and job loss. Furthermore, men are oftentimes disappointed with their perceived lack of achievement, feeling as though they have wasted their lives. Finally, like women, men are subject to their own violent hormonal vicissitudes, with unusually low testosterone being a possible culprit for midlife depression in men.  

Seeking Treatment  

Neither men nor women have to suffer midlife depression in silence. Those suffering from this depression may benefit from psychotherapy or antidepressants. Apart from these treatments, both sexes are encouraged to get plenty of sleep, exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet. By the 50s, one’s body will have taken enough of a beating; the least one can do is stave off serious health problems associated with old age by healthy living.