Midlife is a time of great upheaval and change for many people. On a physical level, their hormone profile is fluctuating through the physical changes brought on by the menopause. This can lead to feelings of sadness, rage, vulnerability and despair. At the same time, they find their role in life is changing. Their children are becoming more independent and are leaving home triggering, for many, an ‘empty nest syndrome’, crisis and isolation. Relationships with partners and spouses are evolving and elderly parents may need more help and support.
At the same time, midlife can bring health challenges in the form of chronic health conditions. It is no wonder that so many ladies battle with depression and anxiety at this time.
It is important to be clear that midlife can also bring with it wonderful opportunities for reinvention and exploration. Mental health issues should be recognized, acknowledged and then the appropriate help sought so that you can get on with your life.
Recognizing that you are suffering from depression
There is a big difference between depression and feeling a bit down for a while. We all feel sad once in a while; that is the nature of life. However, if you regularly feel sad and tearful, accompanied by a feeling of hopelessness, then you may be experiencing depression. Some women describe it as feeling ‘empty’ for a prolonged period of time. Ask yourself the following questions:
- In the last two months have you felt irritable and frustrated enough to have outbursts of anger?
- Do you feel anxious and restless?
- Have you had feelings of guilt or worthlessness?
- Are your feelings preventing you from enjoying activities that used to give you pleasure?
- Are you experiencing memory lapses and are you having trouble concentrating (e.g. brain fog)?
- Do you feel like you have no energy?
- Are your sleep patterns messed up?
- Are you eating/drinking a lot more or a lot less than you used to?
- Do you go on shopping sprees – and spend more than you can afford?
- Are you addicted to being online?
- Are you neglecting normal hygiene habits?
All of these can be a sign of depression. Taken together they could be making your life very difficult to cope with right now. The good news is that there is plenty that you can do about it.
Treating your depression
It is very important that you seek help for your depression if you are struggling to cope with your emotions. You can find out more from Compass Health Center about the types of professional help available. Even if you don’t have health insurance, I urge you to explore the options and ask for a payment plan to make it affordable. The main thing is that you seek help.
With the agreement of your medical professionals, you can also try to help yourself. Getting regular exercise and following a balanced diet is always helpful. This does not mean that you have to introduce drastic changes to your eating patterns or try to run a marathon. Simply build some form of exercise into your daily routine. Make yourself leave the office (or your home) at lunchtime for a walk or jog. Practice yoga or pilates to reduce stress. Introduce plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables into your diet and cut out smoking and high levels of alcohol. Together, these measures will transform your midlife into what you want it to be.