Men and women often live in two separate worlds. And, for those in the 40-60 age group, it turns out that in some ways men are living in a much darker world than women.
A new subspeciality in psychiatric care
In the past, there were three general types of psychiatry: child psychiatry, youth mental health and geriatric psychiatry. However, as the 40-60 age group has expanded, a new psychiatry subspecialty has developed: “mid-life mental health” or “middle-aged psychiatry,” which is particularly focused on this age group.
Why the 40-60 age group?
For this blog, it is because this is the time where separation and divorce become common. And, as it turns out, this age group is already vulnerable with a higher general suicide rate in all Western countries, including the United States. And, according to many studies, any sudden, negative life event can damage mental health further, especially for men.
Divorce, the acute stressor
As sudden, negative life events go, divorce may be the most acute stressor, next to the death of a loved one. After all, divorce is the death of a relation, when we go from two lives living as one to two lives living separately. Indeed, when compared to married men, unmarried men are 3.5 times more likely to die of suicide. Then, when a man goes from that married group to the unmarried, they bring with them that acute stressor, divorce.
Even without kids, divorcing men often end up with less or no social supports, which leads many to loneliness and isolation. Then, if one has children and also loses custodial rights, that loneliness and isolation is joined by a sense of failure, guilt and shame, among a myriad of other negative emotions. This can lead fathers down a dark path.
Build supports now
For those in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, the biggest takeaway from this research is that divorcing spouses need to build their support network now. This means ensuring they have social supports post-divorce, along with beginning therapy now. This can help divorcing spouses weather the storm.