Fewer Middle-Aged Women Happy, Study Says

A survey of women ages 35 to 54 finds that only 19 percent of them consider themselves very happy compared to 34 percent of the population at large.

Significantly more depression was reported among women responsible for the care of an elderly relative. Those women may experience sleeplessness, eating problems, lack of energy, irritability, anxiety, exhaustion and a lack of concentration. They may also have less desire to spend time with other people. The survey suggests that women bear the brunt of caregiving responsibilities and that is taking a toll.

"What happens is a lot of these people are showing that they have signs of anxiety, depression, and they're showing signs of stress," psychologist Robin Goodman told The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler. "And that stress is showing up in terms of physical symptoms, because not only is the stress creating problems, they're not taking care of themselves.

"They're not going to the doctor. So their health is compromised. They're also unhappy, irritable, angry; they're not finding joy in life. They're isolated from other people because of these responsibilities. And then it's a vicious cycle of feeling even worse about yourself."

The survey, done by National Association Of Social Workers And The New York Academy Of Medicine, indicates that nearly 80 percent of middle aged women — or women in the sandwich generation — are taking care of an aging relative as well as their own children. It can sometimes become too much to handle.

"The first thing is you have to acknowledge it and recognize it and admit to yourself that you can't do it all and it's not a sign of weakness," Goodman said. "It's a sign of recognizing there's a problem and you could do this better. That what's important is my relationship with the person, but these details of the care of the person, maybe I can source those out or ask for help or get other people involved because it's my job to care, but not to do all of the care."

Goodman offered some important tips for women feeling overworked.

  • Take care of yourself.
  • Recharge your batteries by utilizing your support systems. Support systems can be a husband, children or even an online chat group.
  • If you still need help, seek out a professional.