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Are You Depressed, and Don't Know It?
November 03, 2008

Midlife Wisdom For Men Issue #115, November 3, 2008

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Are You Depressed, and Don't Know It?

I used to be a regular guest on a CBC call-in radio show, talking about midlife mens' issues. One day I talked about depression, and the board lit up. A lot of men called to say they realized they were depressed, but hadn't, until then, realized it.

Life's job is to offer new challenges

Many years ago, a fellow explained to me that life goes in seven-year cycles. When I thought about it at the time, it made sense. Psychologist Carl Jung thought so too, and he nicely summarized the stages we go through.

There are about 1100 words in the articles in this issue, which should take you about four minutes to read.

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Written by Noel McNaughton
Midlife-Men.com
(c) copyright 2008 midlife-men.com

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If you like this e-zine, please do a friend and me a big favour and forward it to him. If a friend DID forward this to you and if you like what you read, please subscribe by visiting Midlife Wisdom for Men.

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Middle age is when your age starts to show around your middle. - - - - Bob Hope

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Are You Depressed, and Don't Know It?

When 'Ted' (not his real name), who ranches in Southern Alberta was in his early fifties, he got so he was 'feeling cornered' by external circumstances of all kinds. He couldn't even make a decision about what to do on the ranch. He said if he had two things to do on a given day, he couldn't figure out which to do first.

He started feeling paranoid too, as though the government, the oil companies who had leases on his land, and even the feed salesman, were out to get him. 'Ted' went on an 'SSRI' (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor - the new family of antidepressants, which includes Prozac and Zoloft) and said he felt mentally sharper than he had in many years.

I have several other friends my age who also went on anti-depressants for a year or two in their early fifties, and found it very helpful.

When I was in the midst of andropause (often incorrectly called 'male menopause) a few years ago, I too went through about five years of mild depression. I didn't realize what it was at first. I thought I was just feeling kind of punk, was more irritable than I used to be and had lost interest in what I used to do. I thought if I could find something new to be passionate about, I would feel fine. My wife Elizabeth, who is a psychologist, helped me identify it as mild depression.

I even went through a period where I would suddenly feel anxious and turn pale for about ten minutes twice a day - in mid-morning, and mid-afternoon. This went on for about four months. Elizabeth would notice I was looking pale and ask me if something was wrong. I would say I felt a bit anxious, but didn't know why.

I never did see a doctor about this specifically, but did mention it one time when I was having a regular medical. My doctor said if I ever wanted to just talk about stuff, I could come and see him. I said 'thanks, I'll think about it', but never did go see him just to talk. If I had wanted to see a professional for talk therapy I would have gone to a psychologist, (I have done that in the past), but I didn't do that either.

Depression Common In Midlife Men

I have since discovered that depression is common among us middle-aged men, and it can have serious consequences. Professor Robert Goldney, from Adelaide University, is an international expert on suicide. In his private practice as a psychiatrist he treats plenty of middle-aged men.

"It may sound simplistic, crass even," he says, "but this is the reality of it - depression, depression, depression. If you could get rid of all depression, you could eliminate 50 per cent of suicides." Goldney says part of the problem is that men aged 25 to 65 generally don't talk about their depression. They don't turn to a doctor or a counsellor for help. "In some ways, depression is not in the vocabulary of these men," he says.

I didn't want to go on an anti-depressant, because I felt I was going through a normal part of life, and it would pass. Eventually it did, and I am still not sure whether an anti-depressant would have been a better choice than 'toughing it out'. Had I been seriously depressed (as in when you can barely get out of bed in the morning), I would definitely have gone on a medication.

Statistics say women are twice as likely to suffer from depression as men, but that may not be true, as we men are much harder to diagnose. Women tend to look inward when something is wrong (what could be wrong with me?), and men tend to look outward (what is wrong with my wife, the neighbours, the government, the world...?).

I have read it can take three different doctors and up to ten years for a depressed man to be properly diagnosed because it doesn't occur to him he could be depressed. He also denies it's possible (many men see depression as a sign of weakness), and thinks things would be better if the other people in his life just treated him 'right'.

If you are wondering whether you might have a touch of depression, here are some typical symptoms: * Depressed mood - most of the day, every day * Mood swings - one minute high, next minute low * Lack of energy and loss of interest in life * Irritability and restlessness * Disturbed sleep patterns - sleeping too much or too little * Significant weight loss or gain * Feelings of worthlessness and guilt * Difficulty concentrating and thinking clearly * Loss of sex drive * Thoughts about death and the option of suicide

If you discover you are depressed, do as I say, not as I did ;-), and at least see your doctor. Oh... and keep your wife in the loop about how you are feeling too. It can make a really big difference in your relationship.

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I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.

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Life's job is to offer new challenges

I got the following quote from a nutrition article by nutrition guru Sam Gracie at http://www.vistamagonline.com/articles/page.php?tp=4&p=1&id=4&s=twenty-one_days_from_ordinary_to_remarkable. I don't know where he got it, but I thought it was an excellent summary of the stages of life we go through.

According to psychologist Carl Jung, life offers new challenges in a seven-year cycle. A child begins school at seven years of age; experiences inner turmoil and hormonal changes at 14; faces career decisions as well as adult responsibilities at 21; and has a desire to settle down, have a family and "nest" at 28. As a maturing adult, they begin to self-manage and transform uncomfortable, old, limiting habits at 35; and have a deep sense of unfulfilment or a sense of unrest and begin to question lifestyle and life direction at 42.

They begin to make changes to lifestyle and emotional, physical and spiritual beliefs because of a mid-life self-management transformation at 49.

By the age of 56, spiritual matters, peace, love, calmness and wisdom begin to nurture the human spirit and become as important as physical wellness. At 63, a late-life self-management transformation begins as retirement from full-time work is planned; at 70 and 77, challenges in education, career, marriage, having children, buying a home and saving financially are no longer preoccupations and the time has arrived for internal transformation to become a Wise Elder.

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Some reckon their age by years,
Some measure their life by art;
But some tell their days by the flow of their tears
And their lives by the moans of their hearts.
- - - - Abram Joseph Ryan

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**************************************************** I Need Your Questions and Feedback!

Got comments? Questions? I'd love to hear from you.

Just email your suggestions and/or questions to noel@midlife-men.com . I look forward to hearing from you. And thanks.

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Well friend, that's it for now. Again, if you enjoyed this and/or found it useful, and know of anyone else who might like it, please pass it forward. And if you have questions or recommendations, I would love to hear from you.

All the best, Noel

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