Mr. Lee, who has to retire in a few years, doesn’t go home right away after work.
Because even if he comes home early, it seems like none of his family members welcome him. He hasn’t talked to his wife or children for a long time.
So it became his routine to drink with his friends or by himself because he hated to feel alone or depressed.
Korean men in their 50s often think that they are strangers in their own family. It can be common for fathers to feel that they are simply there to make money for the family which gives them great stress about their retirement.
How many Koreans in their 50s have depression?
Men in their 50s in Korea have been suffering from depression. One of the reasons is that although they often have to retire at this age, their financial responsibility or burden doesn’t decrease.
And also, their relationship with a wife or children is often difficult because of lack of communication. In fact, many people in this age group have never been taught by their parents how to express their feelings.
According to the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service, the number of patients with depression in their 50s was the highest in all ages and has been gradually increasing.
The number was 36,102 in 2014 but rose 9.3% to 39,463 last year.
<The number of patients with depression in the 50s>
What are they worried about?
According to the survey by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs in 2015, the biggest worries of those in their 50s is health (32%), life after retiring (24.7%), jobs (16.3%), children’s education (9.6%), housing (6.7%), parental support (5.6%) and debt redemption (5.1%).
From the survey, it is clear that many people in their 50s feel pressure or burden about their life after retiring and supporting their parents and children.
On the top of that, they don’t have anybody to communicate with or listen to their worries. It can, therefore, become easy to develop depression.
Another big problem is that many people suffering with depression don’t take their depression seriously. They think that they can overcome it anytime by themselves.
Although it has been changing a lot, many people still follow Confucian culture. In this culture, the role of father is to be strict and dignified.
Because of this, many fathers do not express their feelings and thoughts in front of family members. This is also due to the cultural environment that they grew up.
Currently, some ideas about how to prevent and treat depression in this age group are being discussed. But on the top of that, a courage and willingness to share the pain and listen to each other in the family must be important.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.net)
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