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Posted by / 22-Dec-2017 21:08

Middleage dating

And in the weekly column I write about emotional issues, at least half the letters come from men.

Yet most of them have never told anyone they suffer from depression - not their wives and certainly not their boss.

According to new figures, we middle-aged women suffer more from depression and anxiety than any other group. Mother-of-one and step-mother to three, ranging in age from thirteen to twenty-five. Envious of her 26in waist, but only because I know that never ever again will mine be that size.

Nearly a quarter of us, says a new study conducted by the NHS Information Centre, will fall victim to the Black Dog - an increase of 20 per cent in the past 15 years. Married, for the third time, so obviously an eternal optimist. Elderly parents, one with possible dementia, both suddenly in need of round-the-clock care, that they refuse to acknowledge, so frustration and stress all round. Dr Andrew Mc Culloch, chief executive of the charity the Mental Health Foundation, explains why women like me are at particular risk.

The difference between low mood and depression is a bit like the difference between a cold and the flu. And how I see my life is, I believe, dependent on how particular chemicals in my head happen to be behaving on a certain day.

A cold is wearying and tiresome and makes you feel rotten. I ended up in various psychiatric units, unable to read or write (difficult when you earn a living as a writer) and encased in the sort of black despair other depressives have described as 'a living death'. Most of the time they are quiet (I was brilliantly well for four years) but then, last year, I had another episode which lasted for about eight months - a fairly typical course for the illness. Mine happens to be severe because I have a genetic predisposition (which means I am more to succumb to it, even if that is not a certainty) so while I welcome any report that raises awareness of mental health issues I worry that reports such as this lead us into tackling them in the wrong way.

Of course we are, because we thought it was never going to happen to Further, our menopausal symptoms are hugely exacerbated by stress because stress, particularly in our 30s and 40s, sends our hormones, literally, crazy.We balance home and work, teenagers and elderly parents, empty nest syndrome and separation anxiety - as in separated from a society that tells us that the only body and face worth having is a young body and face. And it's one that doesn't simply affect middle-aged women.In other words, we feel overworked, over-looked and biologically redundant. No wonder so many of us suffer from depression and anxiety, as I have done periodically over the past eight years, sometimes for years at a time and to such a crippling extent that I simply wanted to die. The stresses we are all subject to make life increasingly difficult. How did we turn into our mothers, swearing all the time we never would?I know now that suicidal thoughts are a major symptom of depression - as a fever is to pneumonia - but at the time it was horribly, terribly real. If I had understood that managing my illness means being honest about it, asking for help and putting in place a controlled programme of nutrition, exercise and therapy, I might have had a happier life rather than one too often punctuated by long, dreary months of depression - about which, like so many others, I told nobody because I thought I should be 'coping' better.I lost a stone in weight in a couple of months, mainly because food sat like dust and ashes in my mouth. As Dr Andrew Mc Culloch says: 'Mental health problems remain extremely common, yet only a quarter of people with a mental health problem are receiving treatment.' If we stop seeing mental health as some frightening and marginal category, but look at it simply as part of public health and general wellbeing, we might put the stigma where it belongs - in the dustbin. I worry, too, that by focusing too much on women, we ignore the many problems men are facing. It can be destructive in its expression, leaving in its wake a wreckage of alcohol and drug abuse, broken homes and fragmented communities.

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  1. On their Linked In profile, they've probably listed their undergraduate degree and when they graduated from college, which means you can work backward to figure out approximately how old they are.