If a woman has her children in her 20s and 30s, it means that she begins to lose those children to college and marriage around the ages of 40-50. This is unfortunately peak time for perimenopausal symptoms of depression, irritability, physical symptoms, and insomnia. The combination of hormonal changes and “empty nest” syndrome can be emotionally taxing for the woman who has seen herself as a “mother” for much of her previous life.
Empty nest syndrome can happen if a woman and her spouse have just one child or many children. The change can be abrupt with several children going onto new lives, careers, and goals in just a few years. This not only changes the relationship the woman has with her children but it changes the way the couple reacts to each other. No longer, is the topic of discussion just focused on the children and the couple needs to find different ways of interacting with each other. This alone can prove difficult for some couples.
If the woman has not been working for many years because of the demands of motherhood, she might find herself with an exaggerated sense of “empty nest” syndrome. All of the meal planning, soccer game watching, and laundry/cleaning she has been doing all these years goes away, leaving her with very little to do. This alone can lead to depression in the middle-aged woman facing the loss of her loved ones who have grown up and moved away.
Solutions: Don’t Stop Until One Or more Work For You
One way to look at this time of confusion and great change is to look for and make a list of the positives that result from the kids leaving, instead of focusing on the negatives. When we are in turmoil it is very easy to become caught up in all the bad until we cannot see the forest from the tress, or the light at the end of the tunnel. This is the time that depression can deepen and take a turn for the worst. Make a list of all the positives, if you cannot think of any then please read on.
One way a woman can begin to cope with empty nest syndrome is to go out and find a job. Perhaps she was trained in a career before she married and had children and now must go back to that career. Perhaps she wants to start a brand new career or open a new business. She may decide to go back to school as a way to combat empty nest syndrome. Going to school can teach her a trade she had never thought of before or can improve her social life as she meets with younger and friendly students in her coursework.
Staying social can also combat depression in the middle-aged years. As the children leave “the nest,” she can begin to get out and go for lunch, play card games, or golf with other women in similar situations. There are social clubs she can belong to that go out on outings every so often. She can join a travel group with her spouse so they can together enjoy more traveling options such as tour groups and island getaways. This can be a time of greater romance between the members of the couple as they seek out mutual activities of interest they can do together. They can join other couples dealing with empty nest syndrome and do things or go places they couldn’t have done or gone to when the children were young.
Both men and women can suffer from empty nest syndrome and depression due to the rapid changes going on in their lives but women seem to be more prone to secondary depression because of their primary role as caregiver to the children. Men don’t often have to change jobs or have significant changes to their schedule when compared to the changes women must go through during these challenging times. If the man doesn’t understand these changes a family is going through, it can lead to greater isolation and depression in the wife.
Couples may need to go to couple’s counseling when their children leave home. This is because they only have each other to lean on and sometimes that just isn’t enough after years of child rearing and family life. Couple’s counseling can help the woman deal with the emotional aspects of having her life turned around by the turning of the calendar.
Don’t Give Up
The most important thing is to find solutions that work for you; no matter how hard it is because for many women, it is kids leaving home that starts a completely new chapter in their lives, one that is filled with a new joy, new happiness, and new purposes.