Midlife Depression - Discussion

Midlife crisis and midlife depression are facts of life that almost every individual faces and goes through. Studies, statistics, research reports, and almost all evidence point towards one main fact, which is, the average age during which depression occurs is between 30 and 45. It is therefore in everyone’s interest to be aware of this impending situation, and to prepare oneself adequately in order to learn to overcome this challenge with minimal or no damage to body and mind.

Depending upon individual personalities, personal as well as professional circumstances, and lifestyles, the extent of midlife depression varies from one individual to another.

Some of the reasons that lead to such depression include, increasing responsibilities both personally and professionally, mounting pressure to invest in a home or create some savings, uncertainty about the future, managing children, taking care of aged parents, loss of a loved one, etc, resulting in very little or no time for people during this phase to concentrate on their own health and happiness. Sometimes, this fine balance of juggling multiple responsibilities in the air goes haywire, and people start slipping into depression.

Most of the above-mentioned reasons are external and caused mainly due to external circumstances. However, even in the absence of all of the above, people still experience midlife depression.

And some of the non-external factors responsible for triggering midlife depression include discontentment with one’s life, uncertainty about the future, inability to enjoy things that seemed interesting and joyful before, boredom setting in with routine activities of life, and ultimately one is generally dissatisfied with oneself and the direction one’s life is heading towards.

To summarize, midlife depression can be caused both by external factors and circumstances as well internal feelings and emotions. If one is not careful and aware of this problem, there are high chances of one slipping into such depression without realizing it.

Some signs and symptoms which are useful for identifying midlife depression are:

  • All activities that once seemed like fun and interesting stop evoking the same response.

  • There seems to be an inner conflict that happens every time one is required to make adjustments and accommodate another person’s interest.

  • The need to be alone and figure oneself seems to preoccupy one’s mind.

  • Everything seems meaningless and purposeless. All effort seems to go unappreciated and unnoticed.

  • One is constantly hounded by thoughts of "what next?"

  • Decisions taken and choices made in the past seem to be inappropriate and accepting these mistakes seems inevitable.

  • The need to do something different, achieve something in life, and finally figure oneself out seems to override all other thoughts.

  • Accepting mistakes, admitting defeat, and learning to correct oneself seems like a Herculean task.

During midlife crisis and depression, people generally get depressed thinking about the past or worrying about the future. This is a transition period, during which one has to learn to accept mistakes made in the past, learn from them, and not worry about the future, because worrying does not change anything

Coping with midlife depression includes learning to face challenges without using any shortcuts and making the most of a situation. It is important for people to stop dwelling in the past and start taking some proactive steps in the present, as well as to enjoy life to the maximum. One should realize that investing in a good exercise program, eating a balanced diet, and sleeping well at night are important, and by investing in these little things one is ensuring one’s health is taken care of in the present and the future.

The key to overcoming midlife depression and crisis is to make the most of a situation as well as to enjoy good health and the company of older people when both are still around. One should not be too hard on oneself and stop blaming oneself if things do not go as per plan.

The idea is to keep life as simple as possible and not to build up stress. Accumulating negative emotions is something that is generally the main cause of physical illness and depression; therefore, one must try and nurture positive thoughts, speak positively, and carry out positive deeds.

Thinking something, saying the opposite, and ultimately doing something completely different creates a lot of conflict within a person, and this leads to negativity. Thought, word, and action should always be linear to avoid conflict and maintain the balance within.

As adults, the tendency is to think that one is right, and one becomes rigid in one’s ways - this can lead to serious problems. Therefore, one must also maintain flexibility and learn to accept mistakes when they happen, as well as learn to drop the ego. When the ego is damaged, one feels anger, frustrations, and humiliation, which then give rise to an entire gamut of negativity that is lethal to one’s wellbeing. The sooner one understands and learns this, the easier it is to deal with various crises and disappoints one has to face on a day-to-day basis.

If midlife depression or midlife crisis starts interfering in one’s routine activities and disrupts normal life, it is best to seek professional help. Depression can then be diagnosed and treated, depending upon the type of depression and the severity of the condition. Treatment typically includes counseling, psychotherapy, and pharmacotherapy, which includes antidepressant medications.

Here, do note our stand that, because pharmaceutical drugs often come with dangerous, sometimes even fatal, side effects, their use in treating any type of depression should only be carried out as a last resort. Long-term use of any medication is also not advisable. However, once drug medications are commenced, dosage instructions should be properly adhered to, and stopping any medicine abruptly without professional advice can be dangerous and is not advisable.

Alternatively, more natural means of dealing with depression could be adopted.

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