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Midlife Wisdom for Men Issue #004, February 17, 2004
February 17, 2004
Written by Noel McNaughton
(c) copyright 2004


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

February 17, 2004 Issue #004

=========== TABLE OF CONTENTS ==========


* How Satisfied With Your Life Are You? (And Why It Matters)

* Why It's Not Safe to Talk On Your Cell Phone While Driving.

* Why Masturbating When You Were In Your Twenties Might Protect You From Prostate Cancer Today (and other prostate stuff).



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In a study of more than 22,000 adults in Finland, reported in the American Journal of Epidemiology 2000; (Suzanne Rostler, 152:983-991), investigators found that men who reported high levels of satisfaction with their lives were more likely to be alive 20 years later.

There was no such correlation between life satisfaction and mortality for women. The study's lead author, Dr. Heli Koivumaa-Honkanen, suggests that women are better able to cope with distress and dissatisfaction than men. For example, men who feel dissatisfied might cope with their feelings by drinking too much, smoking and not exercising, while women are more likely to talk to friends or seek professional help.

The authors define life satisfaction as a sense of general well-being that takes into account a person's interest in life and their feelings of happiness or loneliness.

The study found that dissatisfied men were more than twice as likely to die of all causes than those who were satisfied with life, and more than three times as likely to die of a disease. Men who drank heavily were at even higher risk.

"Perhaps the coping capacity ... is not adequate in those men who are less able to create a stable intimate partnership or earn their living," Koivumma-Honkanen suggested, "It is not enough for a human being to earn money and be in physically good condition. One should respect mental health as well," she said.

My observation is that many men in midlife transitions feel a general level of dissatisfaction with their lives, and many (including me for several years during my early fifties), enter a period of low-grade depression. Some even experience severe depression.

Here is a little information on depression in men from the National Institute of Mental Health (the emphases are mine):


Depression in Men

Although men are less likely to suffer from depression than women, three to four million men in the United States are affected by the illness. Men are less likely to admit to depression, and doctors are less likely to suspect it. The rate of suicide in men is four times that of women, though more women attempt it. In fact, after age 70, the rate of men's suicide rises, reaching a peak after age 85.

Depression can also affect the physical health in men differently from women. A new study shows that, although depression is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease in both men and women, only men suffer a high death rate.

Men's depression is often masked by alcohol or drugs, or by the socially acceptable habit of working excessively long hours. Depression typically shows up in men not as feeling hopeless and helpless, but as being irritable, angry, and discouraged; hence, depression may be difficult to recognize as such in men. Even if a man realizes that he is depressed, he may be less willing than a woman to seek help. Encouragement and support from concerned family members can make a difference. In the workplace, employee assistance professionals or worksite mental health programs can be of assistance in helping men understand and accept depression as a real illness that needs treatment.


If you are feeling depressed, even a little, it can be useful to get a medical, and be sure to mention your symptoms to your doctor. It can also be worthwhile to take fish oil during the winter, or get a full-spectrum light to help deal with the mid-winter blahs (also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder).

Not all dissatisfaction is caused by depression, but depression can make other challenges (job stress, financial worries, relationship problems) feel worse. Talking about your problems with somebody (a best friend or therapist can be good) can greatly reduce your feeling of being all alone in your struggles.

During the time I was in the deepest depths of the 'underworld' in my own midlife transition, I discovered that if I was talking to a friend my age and mentioned some of the symptoms I was experiencing, such as loss of energy, focus, libido, and even lack of interest in what I had been passionate about, as well as feeling more emotional in general, nine times out ten the friend would say "are you having that too? I thought I was the only one.". We would then go on to talk about what we were struggling with, and we'd both end up feeling a little better, knowing we weren't alone.

I also started asking men in their sixties and seventies what their late forties and fifties were like, and many said they had a real struggle, including being depressed, but now they felt great. That gave me hope, knowing the stage I was in would end.

So... if your life satisfaction is low right now, check to see whether you have any of the symptoms of depression listed above, and if so, see your doctor, and talk to a friend and/or therapist. It might save your life!



As you know, people who are talking on cell phones while driving have more accidents. It is not because they are stupid (although when some weevil cuts me off without even seeing me, I wonder), but rather because of a little trick the brain pulls on the eyes when we are engaged in something mentally challenging.

In 2000, Manbir Sodhi and his colleagues of the University of Rhode Island tracked the eye movements of drivers while they performed various cognitive tasks, such as memorizing a list or doing a mental calculation. Sodhi says during these tasks, the drivers' range of eye movement narrowed considerably. In other words they didn't look around as much. The same thing happened when people talked on cell phones, either hand-held, or hands-free models.

More recently, University of Utah researchers found that motorists are more accident-prone and slower to react when they talk on cell phones - even hands-free models - because "inattention blindness" makes the drivers less able to process visual information.

"Even when drivers are directing their gaze at objects in the driving environment, they may fail to 'see' them because attention is directed elsewhere," says the new study by psychologists David Strayer, Frank Drews and William A. Johnston. "Phone conversations impair driving performance by withdrawing attention from the visual scene, yielding a form of inattention blindness."

In a study in 2001 these same researchers found that users of both hands-free and hand-held cell phones are equally impaired, missing more traffic signals and reacting to signals more slowly than motorists who do not use cell phones.



Remember all those stories we heard when we were kids about going blind, or growing hair on the palms of our hands? Of course we know now they are not true. But wouldn't we have felt better back then if we knew what we were doing might be reducing our risk of prostate cancer thirty or forty years down the road?

Australian scientists recently studied the sexual habits of more than 2300 men, roughly half of whom had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. They found that the men who had frequent ejaculations between the ages of 20 and 50 had a lower rate of prostate cancer. And it didn't matter whether they had sex partners or not. Masturbation was just as effective as the real thing. This was especially true for men who had ejaculated at least five times a week during their 20s. Those men were one-third less likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer later in life. So there you have it, frequent masturbation, especially in young adulthood, may lower a man's risk of prostate cancer.

According to Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D., "Masturbation is a normal expression of sexuality, and it's harmless unless you masturbate compulsively or cause yourself physical irritation. If this study's findings are confirmed, they should become part of the advice that doctors give men for protecting their reproductive systems."

Here is a quote from the list of andropause symptoms on the home page:

"Sex with your partner isn't as exciting as it used to be, and you find yourself daydreaming about having sex with other women, and are maybe masturbating more, and finding it more satisfying because you don't have to worry about not performing well."

If this describes you, don't worry about it. Know that you are probably helping keep your prostate healthy!

You will find a bunch more stuff on prostate health on the new page I have added to my site:




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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 . I look forward to hearing from you. And thanks.


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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