Being 50 and feeling depressed: (+how to deal with it)

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In this article, we will discuss how it feels to turn 50 and feel depressed. 

We will go through how society sees people getting to their fifties,  how aging influences the appearance of symptoms of depression, and what else, besides aging, can influence this surge. 

Aside from that, we will learn how genders deal with aging and depression and go through a 5 point guideline to deal with depression once you turn fifty.

Family Counseling
Family Counseling

Is it more common to get depressed when you turn fifty?

Yes,  it is more common to get depressed when you turn 50. Although when a person turns 50, society might think they got life and feelings more figured out went through a great length of life’s experiences and learned a lot from it, like:

  • Being more self-assured;
  • Being less fearful;
  • Embracing your imperfections;
  • Getting a greater ability to forgive yourself;
  • Having a better ability to forgive others and letting go of situations.

But this is not true for everyone, some people, as time goes by, can start experiencing feelings of loneliness and lack of social contact as shown in the study made by Lee and colleagues with 9171 people who were fifty and older. 

In the 12 years of the research, it became clear how a person in their fifties who feels lonely can experience a greater feeling of depression. 

Other factors can make a person more susceptible to developing depression. Those factors are:

  • if you are a woman you are twice as likely to develop depression;
  • People between the age of 45 and 64;
  • Divorced;
  • Nonwhite;
  • Can’t work or are unemployed.

Other risk factors to developing depression can be:

  • having gone through stressful events such as the loss of a job, relationship problems, financial problems;
  • Having a history of depression in your family;
  • Having experienced abusive relationships.

A study done by Murray and Lopez in 1990 has shown that women and men have different views on aging and how life should be like when you do. They are also impacted differently by depression. Now let’s take a look at how gender plays a role in having depression as you turn fifty:

Women in their fifties and depression

As women reach their 50’s their bodies start going through a great hormone and reproductive change. This can help a woman develop symptoms of depression since it can make them feel like they lost part of their womanhood, and that their bodies and humor are out of control.

A study done by Dennerstein and Soares in 2008 showed that women in their fifties can show a greater risk of depression than men, and the menopause symptoms sometimes can overlap with depression.

That can make it harder to treat since in that period of their life women are going through intense hormonal changes, such a period is called a “window of vulnerability” especially for women who have experienced depression in previous moments of their lives.

Men in their fifties and depression

When men turn fifty they also feel the changes in their bodies, but it is with retirement that men sometimes lose that socially established role as a provider. That can cause them to feel lost, without a perspective of new roles they can take part in, and lose the social connection they once had at work.

Depression is usually harder to diagnose in men because sometimes a man can be depressed and people close to him won’t even notice. 

They usually have a harder time recognizing depression since they downplay the symptoms and don’t want to discuss their mental health. 

When symptoms start showing they can go unnoticed as sometimes it can come masked by different unhealthy coping behaviors such as the abuse of alcohol or drugs, risky behaviors, extreme anger, and avoidance.

HOW TO DEAL WITH DEPRESSION IN YOUR FIFTIES- a 5 point guideline

Let’s talk about what ways a person getting to their fifties or someone who is already fifty or older can deal with depression and find new ways to live a better life. 

These are our 5 guidelines:

  • Supported socialization;
  • Create a list of goals;
  • Build a new support network;
  • Meditation;
  • Reward your efforts.

Supported socialization

Being in touch with therapists or other people that can give you support and guidance when choosing new activities and places where one can socialize can make the feeling of loneliness decrease and with that the symptoms of depression. 

This will create new environments where a person can establish new life goals and relationships. People around their fifties sometimes can be dealing with becoming a widow or a plan of retirement, so it is important to try and bring to life new meanings and goals.

Get a list of goals

As your life and routine change, it is important to create new goals and desires. It can help a person have a positive look on life and keep focused on what they still want to accomplish in life. Planning your life can also give a good sense of self-control and empowerment.

When planning your goals remember to do both long and short-term ones so you can put to work the short-term ones, that will give you a great sense of satisfaction, while you are putting into action, little by little, the long-term ones.

Build a new support network

Although when a person feels depressed it can be hard to connect to others, it is important to have people to count on daily, these people can be friends, neighbors, family members, religious leaders, or any other person that brings a sense of care.

Having a person close can be helpful to keep grounded emotionally, it can also help when faced with a dilemma or a problem and it is also important to have people that would listen when venting is needed.

Meditation

Meditation and relaxation techniques are a good way of increasing the feeling of well-being, joy, and balance in life while focusing on breathing and emotions. It can also clear the mind of negative thoughts and give a great sense of calmness and be less stressed as it allows a connection between mind and body.

Reward your efforts

Understand that this new moment in life comes with small and big changes. There are emotional, body, and social changes going on as a person lives through their fifties, so it is important to give praise whenever something new is achieved.

It doesn’t need to be a big celebration as sometimes it is hard to find the energy to do big celebrations when dealing with depression, but it’s essential to observe the milestones, be it starting a new activity, moving to a new neighborhood, or even opening up to a new friendship.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ): Is it more common to get depressed when you turn fifty?

-Do people always get depressed when they turn 50?

It is not always that people get depressed when they turn 50, but as said in multiple studies getting depressed when you get older can be easier than when you are in your twenties, but other factors can make it more likely that a person in their fifties will get depressed.

Unfortunately, some aspects such as gender, relationship status, how a person deals with their social connections, work-life, having a history of depression in the family or life, or going through a stressful situation can make it easier for a person to develop depression.

-Is there a way to not get depressed as you get older?

Yes, people can avoid getting depressed as they get older. It is important, as one gets older to remember that each period in our life comes with its wins and its loss. Although as we get older our body may not feel as it did when younger, other possibilities open up as you get older.

Those possibilities can be taking the time to enjoy activities you could never do when you were so busy with work, feeling a sense of realization with what you accomplished in life so far, and taking advantage of all the life’s lessons you’ve learned so far to deal with situations in a more self-assured way.

-What is the origin of depression?

Scientists have determined that there are multiple origins for depression. One is the recognition of a depression gene but it also has an environmental factor, for example, if they had close contact with a family member that was depressed, it can become easier to develop depression.

There is also a hormonal aspect of how depression established itself. The level of the hormone serotonin, when low,  can inflict depression in a person.

-How can I free myself of negative thoughts?

There are a lot of ways one can free their mind of negative thoughts. 

One way is keeping company with people that give you positive feelings. Make plans of things you would like to do and, when you can, take action.

It is important to embrace and release your fears and have self-compassion. You can also do something good for others or yourself as a way to be in touch with positive emotions.

-Can loneliness cause depression?

Yes, according to studies feeling lonely can be a great predictor for a person developing depression. It’s important that people feel connected to their peers and the community it is inserted in as this can give you a sense of purpose and goals for the life to come.

CONCLUSION

In this article, we tackled how people can feel when they reach their fifties, but we also discovered that these feelings of lessons learned and new experiences are not always the same for everyone and that depression can have a great impact on life people turning fifty.

We observed that gender plays a role in this, and women are more susceptible to developing depression in their fifties, and how depression in that life period is usually related to family affairs, solitude, and loss. 

We also acknowledge ways a person in their fifties can cope with depression and recognize new joys in life.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to share them in the section below.

REFERENCES

Murray CJL, Lopez AD. Alternative vision of the future: projecting mortality and disability, 1990-2020. In: Murray CJL, Lopez AD, editors. The global burden of disease: a comprehensive assessment of mortality and disability from diseases, injury, and risk factors in 1990 and projected to 2020. Boston: Harvard University Press; 1990. pp. 325–395.

Dennerstein L, Soares C N. The unique challenges of managing depression in kid-life women. World Psychiatry. 2008 Oct; 7(3): 137–142.

Lee SL, Pearce E, Ajnakina O, Johnson S, Lewis G, Mann F et al. The association between loneliness and depressive symptoms among adults aged 50 years and older: a 12-year population-based cohort study. Lancet. 2021 Jan; 8(1): 48-57.

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db379.htm

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