Midlife Crisis Is Not Funny. Why Are So Many Post 50s Men Giving Up?

Sipping on my morning cup of coffee while I cruise through my feeds to gain a glimpse of various global events, in one of the forums I follow was a post from a gentleman in Germany. He apologized for his rant with a statement to ignore. No. I will not ignore this post because he needs someone to hear and understand. So I asked him a series of questions to try to understand.

Five years ago, I joined some depression groups in seek of answers. Instead, I discovered an overwhelming number of people, thousands of people who are reaching out for someone to hear them. I donned my Business Analysis cap and began interacting with people trying to inspire them. We need them. Yet, several will respond to their immediate family members and friends that they are “okay” while they pour their souls in private forums. I’ve made several mistakes as a result of my assumptions and I have learned a lot but I do not know enough. I do not know what I do not know.

Ann Brenoff, Senior Writer for Huffington Post blogged the question of, “Is midlife depression the new norm?” (Midlife Crisis: Are Post 50s Collectively Depressed?. 2012.) In October 2016, Staff Writer Lisa Esposito of U.S. News published an article sharing that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that middle-aged men from 45 to 60 have chosen suicide instead of life and continues to rise since 2014. (Why Suicide Keeps Rising for Middle-Aged Men) Why are we failing our middle-aged men?

In a watercooler conversation with someone at work, ladies have shared that they left their partner because they gave up and they were at their wit’s end. This was alarming and I thought that I understood. I did not understand until I began to experience it in my personal life. While in the place of employment, I have also observed midlife males confused by the personality shift. What happened? Why have they changed so dramatically?

As I traveled the path of trying to understand what was happening to my partner, I began to realize how little I really knew about males and the depression they can experience while pretending that everything is okay. One day, after a doctor’s appointment, I decided that I needed to highlight the lab tests that had results that were outside of the normal range. Even if they were slightly above or below but deemed as an unremarkable change. A pattern began to emerge. His hormones were off. Then, a doctor said to me, “He’s going through male menopause.”

Shamefully, I laughed. How funny, menopause? Come on, now. The doctor gave me a very unamused look and said, “This is real. It’s not funny.” Years later, I asked a friend who has been studying Psychology for almost 20 years and I asked her if she believed that the rising depression in our seasoned males had to do with menopause. She confirmed my suspicion with scholastic information to back her reasoning. Still–is that the only contributing factor?

There are more questions than there are answers and I do feel that this is not being discussed enough. Yet, these are our co-workers, our family members, our community members, our friends, and comrades. If we leave no man behind, then why are so many of them feeling left behind? I also believe that we are not discussing how we can address it enough. This problem does not get the media attention that it deserves as others posture about crowd sizes and popularity polls–our men, our valuable and experienced men who have a lot left to offer to the successes of projects. How can we do better at helping them continue to see the value in their lessons learned?

We need our seasoned males in the workforce to mentor our young leaders. We need their active engagement in projects. We need them to educate us about their experiences so the seasoned men of tomorrow have a chance to understand what they can expect later in life and how we, in the workforce, can champion them to be the contributors as valued resources. Project success requires our experienced males in business, especially if less documentation is a trend that so many of us are pushing for. The value of documentation is the historical errors and success points. If that is the trend then our seasoned males are more valuable and necessary than ever.

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