The mental health experts have identified all kinds of factors underlying the reason why women, in particular, are so susceptible to developing depression in their middle years. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, women develop depression at more than twice the rate of men. We’ve boiled these factors down into six basic areas which I’ll address in each of the next 6 posts.
The first underlying factor is what Deb and I have termed Frazzlemania – hey if the doctors can do it, so can we! Frazzlemania refers to the massive overload that today’s woman finds herself under. The demands on women today are huge! Most middle-aged women have careers, families, households, aging parents and a myriad of other responsibilities vying for their time and attention. Striking a balance between all of them has a tendency to leave one feeling like a failure—spend too much time on the career and the children suffer—too much time on the kids and the marriage suffers—you can see the problem. Plus, many women were born at a time when it was very common for women to be stay–at–home–moms so there is guilt in play as well when they feel they are not doing as good a job managing everything as their own mother did. The guilt, coupled with the sense of failure and stress, make a fertile ground for depression to take root.
Here’s a statistic for you… According to Michele Antoinette Paludi and Florence Denmark in their book Psychology of Women, stereotyped gender roles can play a large part in the everyday stress in a woman’s life. Even if a woman works outside the home, she spends an average of 70 hours per week in the caregiver role for her children (as opposed to the average 30 hours per week for fathers – no, I’m not saying men don’t do anything – far from it). We’re talking about the time required for almost THREE full-time jobs between work and kids alone – nevermind, the civic organizations, social obligations, housework, grocery shopping, etc.! No wonder women can get strung out occasionally!!