Monday, February 6, 2012

Overview of Psychological Challenges in Andropause

When you are young, the life seems to long forever, or almost forever. But, as you get older, the life passing eventually speeds-up to never ever slow down again. There several theories, of why that happens.  You do understand that time is an objective category and it is more or less the same for young and old. So, it is all about perception. When you are in love, time crawls slowly, as you wait for your date…

One of the theory claims that time runs faster as you get older, since subconsciously you compare every moment of your life with all life you lived. The ratio will be smaller and smaller, as you understand from basic math. In any case, at some point you suddenly realize that the number of remaining years is quite limited. And the moment of realization that you are growing old can be traumatic.

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Some psychological characteristics of aging get passed down from generation to generation through our genes. Others can result from real or perceived changes in our bodies as we age (e.g., mental or physical limitations). Social and cultural differences also affect how we deal with aging. Men and women think about aging differently, because of biological, social, and psychological differences between the sexes. For example, women tend to live longer than men, so they generally experience more losses of family members and friends. All these factors influence our overall well-being as we age.

Throughout the life of an every man, there are multiple psychological issues that he constantly struggles with, and these challenges are often amplified during the most critical life stages as puberty and Andropause. In includes self-assessment and self-realization for
  1. Sexuality
  2. Emotions
  3. Mind
  4. Courage
  5. Productivity
  6. Personality
  7. Character
  8. Boyish behaviors

Technically, most of the aspects of the psychological crisis during Andropause can be linked to the dropping levels of testosterone. Young men often have testosterone levels exceeding 1000ng/dl. If you compare this level with the average testosterone level of the 80 year-old men, about 200ng/dl, it looks quite a substantial drop.  

Therapists noticed that some older men tend to be closer to their family at the andropausal ages and are more interested in domestic issues than when they were younger. It is as if the lack of testosterone makes them more "feminine". They take on more homely roles of cooking, cleaning and looking after children. Men in their early stage of life often focus on money, career, and power but when andropause strikes them, the transitions are clearly seen. These men became more concerned with their family and friends as if they regret their past attitudes. It is a standard situation when they devote much more time and attention to their grandchildren than they had previously to their own children when they were parents themselves.

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It is not entirely could be attributed to the testosterone levels. Perhaps another factor plays its role that they might have more spare time during the andropausal years as they have probably retired by then, or they do not need to work as hard as they used to, when they started their professional careers. They may also have more disposable income, having saved most of their lives, and are more willing to enjoy little pleasures around them, stopping to smell the roses. Their emotions become less "fiery" and take on a gentler aspect, so in a sense, the decline of testosterone enhances domestication skills.

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While it is not a common effect, for many in the andropausal years the mind may become less sharp and flexible. The older male becomes slower in mental calculations and ability to adopt new processes and technologies. Not surprisingly, the older you get, the more conservative you become. While it is more complicated to compete in the fast changing dynamic environment, there are big advantages in older men, which help them to compete on the job market with younger counterparts. It is experience and expertise, something your young colleges cannot learn even in the best Ivy League colleges. With all that, you more frequent need to get assistance in paper notes or technologically advanced devices to keep your schedule.

Although once willing to take risks of all sorts, the andropausal man becomes more careful and conservative in daily activities as well. They no longer participate in roller coasters and bungee jumping, but rather watch these on TV instead. Most loose courage to take on new ventures and feel it is a time to retire and to "take it easy". However, fear and courage take on a different perspective in the andropausal years, especially in the older age group of the eighties and nineties. A study on fear was done whereby two groups of people were asked what they feared most. The younger group in the twenties said "death", but death was not what the eighty year olds feared most. It was their loss of independence. It is almost as if the elderly chide, "Death, where is thy sting?"

Productivity is at the core of a man's being. He feels happy when he creates something and is being noticed for it. He wants to feel contributory to his family and even to the whole society. It is natural that all his life he struggles to secure a descent living to his family, and to get recognition at work for his efforts. Andropause is a time of decline, when he might no longer be as productive as he was before, and occasionally it takes more time, efforts, and all skills to compete with the new breed of ambitious young colleagues.

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A man's personality may not stay the same over the years of his life. In younger days the younger male is impulsive, intolerant and ambitious. With the passage of time, various experiences and the fall in testosterone, quite a different male may emerge in later years. The red hot male often converts to a mellow yellow version, becoming more "feminine" and "domesticated", and taking on fewer challenges in the outside world, often preferring the cozy security of family and close friends.

He is much less active, prefers his couch to watch television, and becomes weaker from lack of exercise. Deep inside every man is the desire to remain young and be that little boy that he once was. This may become more marked after retirement as usually there is more spare time at hand. The andropausal man may relive his childhood days, often to the amazement of his partner or spouse! The mischief may be an extramarital affair, a new red sports car, a sudden passion for toy train sets, riding a bicycle, which he hadn't done for years, and so on.

It is also important to highlight, that for men going through Andropause and for their partners, the impact of the bodily changes and psychological side effects linked with low testosterone levels are a very real problem. It can be very demoralizing for men to experience unnatural depression, weight gain, muscle loss, irritability and a change in sleep patterns, all of which may lead to them experiencing anxiety that they are not used to having. This can lead men to experience a decrease in sexual drive and occasional erectile dysfunction. All of these closely linked bodily patterns of Andropause have a significant impact on the man’s quality of life.

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