While women can often talk through their concerns with their peers, for the majority of men this type of conversation can be difficult and as a result, they can often feel the effects of a midlife crisis more acutely.
According to this article, the male midlife crisis can be triggered by a number of events, such as unrealistic or unrealised ambitions, stresses and pressures of being a provider or an avoidance or reluctance to grow up. For some, there is a sense that time is running out and, although not a medical condition in its own right, these thoughts can often present themselves through physical and mental symptoms.
As well as anxiety and depression, when they reach their mid 40s to early 50s, some men experience loss of libido, erectile dysfunction, mood swings and other physical or emotional symptoms. Some people call it the male menopause and suggest that some men go through both a psychological crisis and a hormonal one.
The term 'male menopause' is used to describe the hormonal, physiological and chemical changes that occur in men. It's true that testosterone levels gradually decrease from the late 20s, reaching pre-puberty levels by the age of 80. However, this in itself should not trigger any symptoms or physical issues.
In most cases, the male mid-life crisis is primarily psychological in origin, which can be addressed in a number of ways:
- Finding better ways of tackling stress, such as exercise or other physical activity, like gardening.
- Avoiding alcohol, nicotine or other stimulant drugs that actually add to the body's stress and can dampen your mental wellness.
- Engaging with a range of complementary therapies, such as aromatherapy and yoga. These can have a powerful relaxing effect which helps promote a positive mood and relieve mild depression.
The journey from youth to middle age and on into old age may seem daunting, but you can choose to see it as a ‘glass half full’ experience and use it as an opportunity to change the direction of your life: take up a new hobby, learn a new skill, travel, return to education, try something you've never tried before, commit to stretching yourself every day.
Mindfulness practices (which we explored in a previous post)– can really help to centre yourself in the moment and appreciate your adult life as a gift. Talking therapies can also prove helpful, and are a first step in assisting someone you suspect is suffering.
Often, just a conscious change in thought patterns and our own mental perspectives on middle age can start to bring about change. There are many positives within our adult lives that we can tend to overlook, if we focus only on the negatives. These include embarking on more challenging work and learning opportunities, investing time into long-standing friendships and pursuing the opportunity to gain deeper spiritual satisfaction and appreciation in what we do.
If all these suggestions fail to lift the spirits of men you suspect are suffering from a mid-life crisis, then a visit to their GP to rule out any underlying issues may be advisable. Our Therapy for Men service may also be helpful.