Holistic Centre for Body, Mind & Spirit

Mood Swings, Stress, Insomnia? It Could be the Manopause

Hormonal changes in middle-aged men can have dramatic effects


Middle-aged men are the people most likely to take their own lives, says the Samaritans. This week the Professional Football Association sent a guidebook on handling depression to 50,000 past and present members after the suicide of Gary Speed, the 42-year old manager of the Wales football team. Middle-aged men are also most likely to drink at high-risk levels, says NHS research. And, according to the Royal College of Psychiartrists, their binge drinking is leading to an increased risk of depression and early death.

Why is this? There are, of course, the well-documented stressors of work, family and finances. But, while not as dramatic a shift as the female menopause, there is no doubt that men also experience fluctuating hormones in middle-age. This can have a huge, sometimes catastrophic, effect on mood and emotions. As testosterone levels begin to dwindle – from about the age of 39 – gone is the sort of hormonal charge that propelled many men through their twenties and thirties, protecting them against self-doubt or, indeed, any need for self-exploration.

Dwindling levels of testosterone in mid-life – the manopause, you could say – puts men at increased risk of suffering from depression and anxiety. In the medical journal The Aging Male, investigators from the University of TromsØ, Norway, detailed how their study of 3,400 men suggests that those who are deficient in the hormone are more likely to suffer from fear and low moods. Canadian researchers say that middle-aged men are also more likely to suffer from insomnia.

A broad range of studies suggest that vigorous exercise, such as weight training or running, raises testosterone levels. Sadly, middle-aged British men are often stuck in a situation where they lack the emotional get-up-and-go to get up and get fit.

They are more likely to be obese and have depression than their counterparts in other countries, suggests a survey in September of more the 13,000 people from 12 countries by Bupa Health Plus. Its report says that no other country has such a consistent range of unhealthy 45 to 54-year olds. The more sedentary lifestyle adopted as men grow older merely adds to the problem of diminishing testosterone.

John Naish

Mood Swings, Stress, Insomnia? It Could Be the Manopause

In our society this stage in an individual’s life is often referred to as the ‘mid-life crisis’ and it is, indeed, a very real stage that both men and women pass through. For some it is experienced as only a minor set of events, whilst for others it can be a deeply disturbing, or excruciatingly painful process which can extend over a long period of time.

Men are particularly susceptible to a crisis at this stage of their lives, partly because they can be so hesitant about owning up to physical symptoms and acknowledging their changing physical status. At this stage in life, men begin to worry about their aging body, becoming overweight, hair loss, physical attractiveness, sexual potency, physical strength and stamina, their decline on the sports field, or being left behind socially, sexually and at work as the next generation of young men make their presence felt.

Women too have physical changes at this stage but men tend to hide theirs, along with their feelings of anxiety and unhappiness. This, of course, can have a huge impact on their mood. Indeed the more men hide, the more they have to adapt to how they believe they should act and the less they are able to be their true selves – which only makes matters worse. This is also a particularly important time for men to acknowledge the value of exercise and nutrition in affecting their mood and thinking.

In the psychological and academic world, man’s life stages have been thoroughly investigated, observed and written about and as a result there are many different interpretations, explanations and models connected to this concept. Below is one popular interpretation. In reality, it is not this neat and tidy, as stages overlap and people move back and forth between them. However, the mid-life crisis is a recognised stage and is a natural review point in people’s lives. It is also at this point that unresolved issues from other stages – especially stages 2 and 5 below – will have a renewed impact.

Table 1: Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory of Human Development1

In addition, we would look into our range of therapies and treatments, to possibly include a bespoke Corrective Holistic Exercise Programme with our CHEK practitioner, or maybe the benefits of Shiatsu, Acupuncture, Psychotherapy, Nutrition and Supplement Support, Iridology or Herbal Medicine.

This is a period of life where big dilemmas come up and in order to resolve them, people need the desire to gain consciousness; with consciousness comes awareness; and once the awareness is there, it is the individual’s responsibility to find the will to act upon it.

Associated Reading:
The Times Article – Break-up Risk Highest for ‘early 40s couple with parallel lives’ Times Article – Sex, Drugs, Drink and the City Slicker