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Midlife transition is normal

March 4, 2012
By CATHY BROWNFIELD - Staff Writer , Salem News

Midlife is a challenging time. Major life changes come along that cause a person to assess their life and reconsider some of the decisions they made along the way. Maybe they planned one thing but life intervened and changed the plans. Maybe the person they have a long-standing relationship with has changed. Maybe they haven't felt fulfilled in a long time, or they are confused about who they pretend to be toward the world and who they really are inside. Midlife is a normal "issue" in humans.

Midlife crisis, now known as "midlife transition," doesn't have to be a bad thing. Change is the only consistent thing there is. It's the point in life when you realize there are fewer years of life ahead than behind, you come face to face with mortality and realize that clock is ticking and if you are going to accomplish the things on your bucket list, you'd better get started. That doesn't mean you're going to die tomorrow. That means as we get older time passes more quickly.

Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist, inspired the Myers-Briggs personality model that helps explain the midlife transition. The first stage is "accommodation." This is the face (i.e., persona) we present publicly. Second stage is "separation." We allow ourselves to be ourselves rather than the persona we present in the first stage. Third stage is "reintegration." More certain of who we truly are we look for more appropriate personnas. The last stage is "individuation," we achieve a balance between our inner conflicts and who we are.

Midlife is naturally a significant life period because of all the changes. Children leave the nest, parents pass away. Someone you are close to goes through a difficult experience that makes you stop and reconsider your own life and what changes you should make in your own life. Stressful events include thinks like breaking up with a significant other, death or illness in someone close to you, divorce, job loss, social isolation.

Men, experts say, usually want to prove something. They measure their worth on their work. To prove they are as successful as they wish they were, they buy that snazzy red sports car. Women, on the other hand, begin to assess their relationships. Has she been a good wife and mother?

The bottom line of the issue is the family structure which includes family, work, religion, economic status, etc.

This is the "underlying pattern of a person's life at any particular time." ( Midlife transition is a the advancement to another stage of life. But for some, the difficulties they face may lead to major depression.

Symptoms of depression are feelings of sadness, the blues, unhappiness, etc. These aren't serious when they are just for a few days. But when they become long-lasting or interfere with everyday living that is a problem. "True clinical depression is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for weeks or longer," advises PubMed Health, service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine. It is uncertain what causes depression, but many experts believe it's related to chemical changes in the brain and could be a genetic problem and/or because of stressful events in the person's life.

Depression can happen to anyone. Midlife transitions happen to everyone at some time or another.

For more information about this topic contact Family Recovery Center at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, FRC promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and mental health issues.



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