- Midlife crisis occur during some important transitional phase (30-70) of a human being.
- People experiencing midlife crisis often feel lost, and search for a life purpose.
- People usually overlook midlife crisis signs, even though some are similar to mental health concerns.
- It is triggered by some life-changing situations, in slow mild stages and is similar for all genders.
- Dealing with it yourself is possible but timely medical help can prevent extreme situations.
Did you recently hear the term “midlife crisis”?
Did you or someone close to you reach middle age and it’s bothering you?
Well, people’s emotions overflow in middle age and honestly, there’s a lot to worry about in this stage of life because of rising health concerns.
However, some people can’t cope up with these thoughts and it leads to many troubles like a midlife crisis.
There comes a point in time, especially around the 40s, when you start questioning all that you’ve done in these years.
But you’re not alone. There are so many more experiencing similar kinds of emotions.
To know more about this life phase, let’s first learn…
Midlife Crisis Infographic
What is a midlife crisis?
The physical, emotional, or mental complications concerning aging and its onset along with its effects in middle-aged people refer to the midlife crisis.
A midlife crisis is a complicated stage of a middle-aged person’s life when they assess their achievements, identity, mortality, and confidence.
Elliot Jaques, a psychologist, coined the term “midlife crisis” in 1965 and defined it as mental health issues in middle-aged people.
During midlife crises people want to feel youthful once again, accepting the fact that they’re aging.
Some people grow out to be exactly how they imagined; some aren’t that fortunate. In middle age, people evaluate everything about their life and due to degrading mental health, everything might seem not-so-rosy.
Some feel stuck in a rut for never living for themselves, others experience feelings of hopelessness. Few start working on their forgotten goals and reach them even through this life crisis.
And just to have more fun or feel more youthful, some people ponder upon getting a sports car to look “cool and young”, some decide on getting a mistress for excitement.. varying from person to person.
While growing older, people experience emotional turmoil, but don’t necessarily head to major life variations to feel youthful.
But this doesn’t mean you will see the midlife crisis in a negative light, because someone who experiences a midlife crisis may also change for the better.
Now the question arises…
But, what is Middle age?
Middle age can start earliest at 30 and end the latest by 70 – it depends on a person’s lifestyle and circumstances.
Middle age varies from person to person but usually, it’s between forty to sixty years with a ten years flux. So, 40 to 60 is the peak of midlife crises, but some might experience it 10 years prior or later too.
But you may ask why does it happen only during this lifespan? Well, new things happen around this age, like you might hit the peak of your career and now there’s nothing interesting left in your life.
Or, your children are leaving home as they are old and independent, and it has hit you with the time that’s gone by.
Children moving out results in a sense of loss and emptiness in their parents’ life.
If you could relate to everything mentioned above, I know you’re looking for some…
21 Signs of midlife crisis
As much as you convince yourself that “it may never happen to me” – it does.
Signs of midlife crisis mostly include some factors or circumstances concerning age. It can be prominent in various ways – mental, physical or emotional.
But don’t worry, there are ways to cope with each of them uniquely – that we’ve discussed later in this article.
So, without any further ado, let’s check the signs…
1. You feel “blah” about most things in life
Life might suddenly seem too bland but there’s a roundabout way to handle it. Appreciating the little positive things can help feel better about life situations.
After calming your mind with the surrounding positivity, take small steps to work on things as you desire.
Sure, you lost time and opportunities to do many things but it’s alright, focus on what you can do now… else you’ll lose this moment too. Ten years from now, you don’t want to face this again.
2. You’re constantly debating the next step of your life
One of the most prominent symptoms of a midlife crisis is extreme hesitation before moving forward. You may be wanting something better in your life but not willing to take action.
Let go of this debate and get on with some fieldwork about the plans.
Consult with close ones, or even a professional counselor to find more information about the new journey. All the deets will be crystal clear once you stop pondering by yourself and seek help from others.
3. You don’t want to get out of bed
You left the past, so no point questioning your journey till now. This long journey was bumpy, tough, challenging in so many ways.
You might not be where you wanted to be a few decades back, but you definitely reached a place and you should be proud of it.
That’s enough reminiscing for today, get out of the bed and prepare yourself for the journey ahead.
More opportunities are on the way, indulge in something worthwhile instead of investing in fancy items.
Trust me, all the luxurious things you want to splurge on won’t pacify your thirst for more. It may be a temporary fix but is certainly not the final answer.
4. You’ve turned on the AutoPilot mode
Taking it easy and letting life flow in its stream might soothe your stress but it can equally demotivate you. You’re losing sight of your life goals with autopilot!
Instead, while you’re at it, re-evaluate your life choices. Think about what you really want and look for ways on how you can achieve them.
It’s never too late to take control once again. Live well no matter how old you are, or how far you traveled.
5. Your plans aren’t working anymore
An important sign of a midlife crisis is failing plans or more frequent dead-ends in life. No matter how you drive through life, everything seems like a blunder.
And guess what? That’s alright because nobody is high on victory all the time. Even if you made a blunder, forgive yourself and learn to do better.
Take time to heal yourself from any emotional or mental injury… but don’t stop. Once you feel ready for challenges, get back up on your feet and fight again. Don’t let the opportunities die.
6. You’ve lost your life purpose
You either feel that you’ve lost your purpose or find yourself incapable of finding one. This is also a way of belittling your current purposes.
Honestly, nothing great will come from confining yourself in a dark endless pit. Instead, search for a positive ray in your life.
Think about how everyone needs you and how you can be a better help to others.
Invest more time being a hero to your surroundings and you’ll sense that there’s more to this world than these questions.
7. You’re jealous, not competitive
Spending time on others’ life achievements and journeys instead of carving your own is another sign that you’ve hit the dreaded.
Don’t compare others’ journeys with yours to demean yourself. Everyone faces different challenges in their life so no two people can lead a similar life.
You wasted considerable time reminiscing about others’ journeys, now don’t waste anymore feeling sorry about this loss.
Else you’ll find yourself in a loop of regretful thoughts. Think about what you want next in your life because only your journey will matter in the end.
8. You’re making BIG, out-of-character changes
If you’re taking high never-thought-of-before risks, it’s another sign but it may not be all bad. Currently, life seems boring and you want more challenges, and in the rush, you may just jump into a hazardous pit.
So, instead, take time to re-evaluate and make changes that will put you in a better place.
Analyzing the challenges by yourself can be tricky because all sides seem unknown and an emotional crisis is fogging the view.
Discuss your plans with a trusted friend or family member before leaping in. They might give you some clarity.
9. You’re not chasing success anymore
Delaying your dreams is not the wisest choice.
But if you’ve suddenly realized that more than half of your life flew past and you did nothing for yourself, it’s a sign of midlife crises.
Late realization about your aspirations shocks the core and desensitizes you for a while.
People who experienced a midlife crisis often stop chasing the “social” success over “short-lived momentary” passions.
But these passions aren’t necessarily bad or meaningless, though society might define it otherwise. By all means, do what you feel is best for you.
10. You’re upset because you already know the ending
Knowing the future of some decision beforehand can take away the excitement of unknown challenges.
There are two choices to everything: let things be or change the course. Now decide which you want, the usual route or the modified one.
Owing to your experiences, figure out how things might change if you change your way. Is it worth the risk, or is it not?
It’s totally up to how you want to define your “ending”. Don’t shy away if you can learn something good from the challenges.
11. You’re always asking “Is this all there is?”
Everyone defines success differently. For instance, some get satisfaction from leading a stable life, others might like changes and risks.
But it’s important to consider your loved ones’ advice on this. They might help you reflect on areas you haven’t seen.
Assess your strengths and opportunities against your weaknesses and risks when life seems dissatisfying.
The result? Your strengths can help show a new direction in your life while considering the opportunities. Also, smartly avoid hitting your weaknesses or hazards in this journey
12. Everything that you do feels like daily chores
Daily chores may seem mundane because you do them… because you need to.
There’s no passion behind it, it’s just a duty you want to finish ASAP. If your life feels like daily chores, you’ve lost passion and it’s a possible sign of a midlife crisis.
Two options – either try igniting the flame of passion for your duties or switch towards something exciting. Identify your hidden desires, perhaps it is time to seek new opportunities in your life.
You’ve put your dreams to sleep for long, it’s now time to wake them up.
13. You think you’ve too much to do, in little time.
It may seem unimaginable… how you played yesterday with school friends, and now you’re taking care of a whole family… nurturing everyone else.
Pretty shocking but life is a race and time flies too fast. Suddenly the thoughts of unrealized dreams have started clouding your head and you’re losing sleep over that.
This realization leads to impulse decisions and you jump into random changes. Honestly, were they absolutely random?
NO, it lingered in the back of your mind but you didn’t pay attention to it. Rather, tend to these small desires in life earlier to enjoy more.
14. You’ve lost the edge you once had
The spark in your eyes is lost… you’ve lost excitement for the challenges and victories in your life. More importantly, you no longer chase victory.
It feels like every day is a battle to stall another failure. If you feel you are just a bit short from failing miserably, the midlife crisis has hit you intensely.
Take risks to remove these feelings. Remember, you fought so long, and are still standing straight.
In the huge crowd, you still possess the zeal to deal with more challenges. Take a break before returning to the battlefield.
15. You’re confused and lost
Confusion indicates dissatisfaction with your current life which can arise from victories and losses. Well, like it’s said, too much of anything is bad. Similarly, winning too much can rip away the taste of achievements.
So, the reason behind the confusion depends on your circumstances. Reflect on the causes of dissatisfaction.
Eventually, you’ll find multiple ways to solve the confusion. Come back after developing a detailed plan with more clarity of your desires.
You faced difficulties connecting with your goals, so search for a different path now.
16. Your weight is fluctuating
As per the American Psychological Association, weight fluctuation causes emotional crisis and mental health issues, and it is one of the signs of a midlife crisis.
It’s important to seek medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment if you or someone around you faces such problems.
Moreover, a person experiencing such symptoms may also suffer from anxiety about their health condition. If you’re relating to this, it’s best to seek medical advice.
17. Your body hurts unusually from time to time
Mental health problems can also lead to physical pain… and this pain is not limited to one body part.
One day your stomach hurts, the next day it’s your head. If regular painkillers don’t work for your pain, that indicates its relation with psychological issues.
Perhaps, diagnosing it for physical reasons was also not able to detect any underlying medical issue. This again worries you further deteriorating the situation.
Seek professionals, undergo counseling, and take proper medications, you’ll soon see the end of this problem.
18. You’re suffering from sleepless nights
If you’re a woman, sometimes hormonal changes and menopause result in insomnia. It’s possible you’ll get better once this phase passes.
But, this can also be a midlife crisis sign.. so don’t miss the beat because of doubts. Consult a specialist either way and get to the root of this.
If you are experiencing other midlife crisis symptoms along with this, then understand that it is one of the many.
No matter the case, see a doctor otherwise it might drastically impact your life quality.
19. You’re growing more self-conscious
Sometimes, middle-aged women suddenly begin obsessing over appearances. Self-grooming can definitely boost your confidence but only until you feel sufficient without superficial products or chemical treatments.
The hidden question is “What do you think of your natural skin?” Are you grooming yourself because it feels good and empowering or is it to hide some “flaw” that tugs your confidence down? If something feels unnatural or you lose confidence drastically, seek immediate help.
20. You may totally lose interest in your appearance
The polar opposite of the last sign is also a sign. Do you feel old and don’t have the motivation to continue the skincare routine anymore?
Some midlife crises make you feel older, tired, and worn out, resulting in aggravation of the situation. Such thoughts embedded in the head sooner taking a more severe toll on life.
Your perception of yourself can result in several other things – like low self-confidence, low sexual interest, etc.
Remind yourself that, “old” doesn’t define “not pretty”. So, learn to take care of yourself and your appearance, no matter what.
21. You have severe mood swings
Sometimes people connect mood swings with menstruation, menopause, or even clinical depression. So how to differentiate between those and midlife crises?
If a woman experiences mood swings around that certain time of the month, it might be menstruation.
But for clinical depression or menopause, one will feel low constantly without any break. Nothing will seem meaningful in life and you’ll feel like curling up in a dark room all the time.
But if there are moments of happiness and sadness in repeated and alternate swings, it’s a midlife crisis sign.
But wait, there can be…
Some signs can seem minor and you might not even suspect them easily like…
1. You’re neglecting regular life habits.
2. You’re withdrawing yourself from your loved ones, even your partner.
3. You doubt your capabilities more than ever.
4. Your romantic, personal, social, or professional life bores you.
5. You tend to think a lot about death, the reason behind birth and death, or the need to live.
6. Everything seems meaningless as the days pass.
7. You’re low on stamina.
8. Your sex drive fluctuates immensely.
9. You think your good days are no more like your carefree youth.
10. You often consider cheating on your partner.
Now that you have been aware of the situation and know that you’re suffering from a midlife crisis… let’s understand what led you to this.
Causes of Midlife Crisis
The causes of midlife crisis revolve around the denial of aging and the changes that come along with it. It can be anything that reminds you of “you’re no longer a young adult”.
You might face many complications in middle-age in your personal, professional, emotional, psychological, or even in spiritual life. If you’ve recently lost a loved one, you might even face an existential crisis.
These all can combine to be the cause behind your midlife crisis but won’t know for certain, unless you explore them all.
Remember, that causes may vary depending on an individual’s age, circumstances and experiences.
1. Physical and mental changes
With age (maturity) some physical and psychological changes bother you like wrinkles, weakness, weight gain, dull skin, and memory loss.
You feel irritable and angry, and sometimes you might even direct your negativity to someone else for no fault of theirs.
2. You deny aging
You don’t want to age or more precisely you want to hold onto your youthful beauty.
This is often because society relates beauty with youth and identifies the aging people as undesirable.
This differentiating attitude is unfair and you shouldn’t be forced to hold onto this beauty because let’s admit it, age comes to us all – as time stops for none.
3. You’re tired of social stereotyping
“Hold your youthful beauty!” says every beauty product with “anti aging components”.
Society and various marketing campaigns spreading negativity about aging disturb you mentally.
They impose invisible standards on people and everyone believes that old men/women are not as beautiful as you want them to be.
4. You lost someone recently
Losing a loved one sucks your energy and has shaken your groundwork.
After such losses, it’s normal to start thinking about the meaning of life. You don’t want to die and feel that aging is one step towards death.
5. You suffered a break-up
Separation in romantic or marital relationships makes you feel undesirable. Though you might get someone better soon but this breakup may have triggered insecurity.
Feeling worthless because someone refused you or turned their back on you might lead to midlife crises.
6. Your family is changing
Children moving out, growing independent, or starting their new family terrorizes you about the time lost in life. Homemakers feel a loss of purpose during this phase.
Aging couples struggle to find reasons to stick to each other after their apple-of-the-eye moves out, leading to this crisis.
7. Your professional life is changing
Your work isn’t as demanding as in the past. Maybe, technological automation is bothering you. Or many people surrounding you may have lost their jobs and you fear it too.
On the flip side, it may be exactly the opposite, i.e., your work becomes extremely demanding and you can’t seem to hold it any longer.
8. You’re worried about your finances
Instability in your monetary position, more so after retirement stresses you.
After retirement, you may or may not continue working, and there’ll be some changes in your financial position. Everyone figures it out once they reach the time, so give it a rest for now.
9. Your trauma about past hardships haunts you
Past or childhood traumas might aggravate crises in middle age or old age. It’s important to seek medical advice and therapy for traumatic experiences.
If someone didn’t, seek one asap to prevent worse situations.
10. You regret something
Regrets about not fulfilling all desires in your life flog you once you reach the peak of your career or life.
People chase stability and forget their actual desires in their youth. But once they achieve stability, questions about working so hard and still not finding the desired happiness might start to bother you – which is yet another cause of midlife crisis.
11. You feel the past was better
You might reminisce about happy days in the past and think your present or future is nowhere near to it.
But, the past was also a present at some point and you didn’t like the struggles back then either. Experiences make people wiser and eventually you feel the past was easy, which isn’t the case.
12. Single parents break down from new responsibilities
Single parents already suffer and cope with all the responsibilities. Being all-in-all, they get tired and want some relief.
But unfortunately, life is full of endless challenges and at some point, they start to question themselves “whether or not it’s worth it?”
One thing that’s common in all of the causes mentioned above is the “time”. With time, everything changes in this world, and everything good ceases to exist at some point.
Some aspects of life suddenly remind you of the distinct changes from the past and present. Ultimately, people cultivate negative thoughts around it and soon after, there’s a knock on your door and guess who’s there? Midlife Crisis!
Honestly, each of the eight different stages of human development in Erik Erikson’s theory possesses a specific struggle.
And he explains stagnation as the chief cause behind midlife crisis and generativity or the urge to give something to the next generation may help resolve it.
In other words, if a middle-aged person fears an unproductive lifestyle in the future (stagnation), he/she might soon suffer from a midlife crisis.
To minimize the impact, nurture your children into great assets for society (generativity). So, when you’re not around, your children will become your contribution to this society.
After the causes, let’s dive into…
Midlife Crisis Stages
Although many scholars deny the existence of “midlife crisis” because of inadequate supporting information, identifying the stages is easy, if you’re careful.
Let’s admit it: Human beings are unique, it’s not easy to link one human being to another when both lead severely distinct lives.
Yet, there are few studies that help identify the stages that most people go through in their midlife crisis.
1. The Dawn
Some person, situation, or incident hits you with the realization of “aging” – the fact that you’re losing time for new challenges, and reaching the end.
This may be triggered by one or several causes mentioned on the list. People might recognize or ignore this uncomfortable reality depending on their nature or behavior.
2. The Crisis
During this period, people try figuring out ways for their situation by pursuing something new or more challenging. But nothing good comes of it because of self-doubt.
Low confidence usually results in failure and then they fall into an endless pit of depression. The willingness to keep working hard sometimes leads to the wrong path.
3. The End
At some point, this struggle ends but it takes a long time if one follows the natural course.
So, seeking therapy to accept nature’s changes and finding happiness during the process is the best solution.
But Jim Conway compares midlife crisis stages with Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s six grief stages…
1. Denial – People deny aging or losing time and fight the natural course.
2. Anger – They show anger towards the impending midlife challenges or incapability to handle them.
3. Repeat – Reminiscing good old memories, and trying to gain youth with surgery, fillers, or seeking pleasures outside marital engagement.
4. Depression – Clinical depression and anxiety soon hit once reminiscing fails to soothe their uncertainties.
5. Detachment – People start withdrawing themselves from society and loved ones and take time to understand better.
6. Acceptance – They accept nature’s laws and seek a meaningful life instead of regretting the past.
So, now the question is…
How long does a midlife crisis last?
Depending on the situation, a midlife crisis can last from a few weeks if you resolve it quickly, till a few years if the stress keeps adding.
Nobody can guess the average time for their midlife crisis. There’s no exact beginning and end, and this period can last longer depending on the severity of emotional crises.
Everyone doesn’t handle emotional turmoil the same way, nor do they follow the same lifestyle. So, dealing with emotions might not always go well.
If someone deals with aging concerns or existential crisis sportingly, they might get over their midlife crisis within a few months at most.
But if the thought of aging terrorizes someone and the relevant situations add on to their struggles, they might not cope with it easily. Such people might take almost a year or several years depending on the stress.
Suppose, you live with your parents, spouse, and a young adult child. When your child moves out after becoming independent, it hits how long you’ve lived for nurturing the child with no time for yourself – This is the beginning.
As soon as you’re ready to spend some time with your spouse, your parent’s health might deteriorate, and you’ll devote your time caring for them now – This fear of losing your parents is the next add-on stress.
Noticing that you’ve no time for yourself, your spouse also stops expecting much from the relationship. And you fear losing the spark amidst you both – another stress.
The next thought in your head might be what if he/she finds someone out of your relationship? You become absent-minded – your parents and even your workplace might notice this.
If your performance drops because of absentmindedness, you might even lose your job.
One stress leads to the other and this chain reaction can certainly lengthen the crisis period.
But does this crisis mean the same to both genders? Let’s find out.
What is a midlife crisis for a man?
Men’s midlife crisis usually involves fancy purchases, regaining lost youth, extramarital affairs, or new hobbies.
A midlife crisis in men and women and their healing methods differ drastically. In a research from 2000, very few of both genders admitted that this is their period of revolutionary life modifications.
Midlife crisis for a man might revolve around sports cars, extra-marital affairs, covering bald spots and receding hairlines, or fancy interests.
Some men run after their lost youth and dreams from the youth. They might want to pursue some forgotten passion once again.
Sometimes, men also suffer from low confidence about their masculinity with advancing age. They might wonder if their partner finds them as attractive as before due to significant physical and hormonal changes.
They might experience a tough time accepting their career growth over the years. Not reaching their career goals adds to their midlife crisis.
Moreover, if men reach all career goals at the expense of no time for close ones, they’ll start blaming themselves for losing valuable moments in their personal life.
Then what’s it to a woman…
What is a midlife crisis for a woman?
Women’s midlife crisis is similar to men’s other than regrets about career sacrifices and feelings of falling out of love.
Similar to men, women also suffer midlife crises concerning their gender and their mingling in society. Women find this intense pressure of retaining youthful beauty so that their partner doesn’t look outside for a younger woman.
They want to stay forever-youthful to their partner’s eyes and go to severe lengths for that.
A woman might get cosmetic surgery to prevent wrinkles, to keep their body in shape, or sometimes even to adjust to the latest beauty standards. Most of them are to retain youthful beauty standards.
Men and women experience the common crisis of losing their desirability to their partner because of physical changes and hormonal imbalance, career growth complex, and personal relationship crisis.
Not always, but mostly women quit their careers to tend to her children. At midlife, this child grows up to be independent and moves out for a new life.
Such women feel purposeless in life because they lost the only hope – their child. They question themselves and are often found asking why they must choose to plan a family over a career.
Even if they feel like tending to her career at this point, it feels too late because of several age criteria. They regret their past decision deeply and start bashing their relationship or past decisions about parenthood.
Women feel self-conscious about their appearance and feel their marriage or romantic relationship is no good once they lose the “beauty”.
They even think divorcing is a better idea now that they have nothing to tend for once the children grow up and move out.
Women who feel empty and unsuccessful in life and blame it on the men for not getting equal opportunities, settle on divorce more.
Don’t worry, you can both recover from this. Keep reading to know how.
How to deal with midlife crisis?
Though everything is ending and you feel hopeless, why not enjoy everything amidst your misery. Here are some ways to heal yourself from all of your troubles.
1. Don’t dismiss your feelings, instead acknowledge them
After reading so far, dismissing your feelings might tempt you because you know this is a phase and “it’ll get better at some point”. But that can worsen the situation a few folds more.
Nobody else knows about these stressful thoughts inside your head. So, you must take the first step and learn to accept them.
Identify the things that make you happy or the people who support you through thick and thin. Find what you desire in this life the most and how you can achieve them.
2. Understand that your life is expanding (not shrinking!)
It’s middle-age so half of your life is over – if that’s on your mind, tell me who defines your middle age? Nothing, except your own mind.
Aging doesn’t indicate you stop living, rather it implies you lived a worthy life and experienced enough to lead a better life in the future.
Many opportunities await in your future. Look forward to realizing them slowly because the fun has only begun!
3. Reflect on your relationships
Romantic relationships might change with time. For instance, you may feel insufficient and lose confidence because of your partner’s lowered libido.
Or, you dreamed of a colorful future with your partner but very few turned into reality.
The endless disappointments and disagreements may lead to negative thoughts about the relationships.
Constant tension in a relationship dissatisfies both partners, and definite, permanent, or long-term changes can impact other loved ones. Consult a couple’s therapist to seek proper solutions to your issues.
4. Exercise Control on your emotions
Letting your emotions take control can result in drastic situations. Emotional decisions never give good results. So whenever emotions overpower you, rest and let the moment pass before thinking about new decisions.
After the moment passes, think over what you want. Do you really want a life led with impulses or do you want to take charge yourself? Investigate the outcomes of your impulsive decisions before acting on them.
Controlling emotions is hard but dealing with bad outcomes is worse.
5. Talk it out with someone
When you hear “trustworthy”, whose name rings a bell? Before making any new or drastic decisions, seek this person’s opinion. If you don’t feel comfortable, consult a counselor and seek their advice on it.
If you misunderstood a mental health concern as a midlife crisis, a specialist can give insights. They might advise diagnosis to ensure your condition. If the results come out negative, they’ll further your counseling.
6. Be grateful and kind
Even if everything feels wrong in your life, something will always be good or the “least dissatisfying” occurrence in your day.
Well, it might not seem enough, but many don’t even receive what you’ve at the moment.
Make a gratitude memoir to note down all the significant happenings in your day. You’ll find more positive things happening in your life if this continues like a ritual.
7. Don’t make any rash decisions
Thoughts like “I’m losing time, gotta hurry about this life-changing decision!” arise with the sudden realization of aging, and are extremely destructive. Plans high on your priority list may need more time and emotional investment.
Important decisions require more resources and one wrong decision might crash your finances and remaining life.
Midlife is a crucial stage of life because you can either make or break your remaining life. Take some more time before acting on huge decisions.
8. Touch base with reality
Emotions aren’t necessarily bad but they can cloud your thoughts.
Before you think any more about your situation, question the validity of these thoughts? Maybe your spouse loves you as much as the first day and you’re misreading between the lines? Or, you’re quite successful in your career, and your high standards for growth bother you.
Think rationally once again, probably you’re overthinking about the current situation and deteriorating your health.
9. Tap into your creative side
Every human has a creative side to them but identifying it can be tough.
Since childhood, most concentrate on studies and professional life and forget nurturing innate skills. If you feel hopeless, seek the skills within you and work on them.
If you feel you lack special skills, then make one. Learn something new like a sport or a musical instrument.
Get into gardening or make a small indoor nursery – there are limitless opportunities that help you find your “limitless” side.
Plus, learning new things around this age can prevent Alzheimer’s.
10. Practice meditation and mindfulness
Indulge in some calming activities like yoga or meditation to help your anxiety or restlessness. Focus on your physical and emotional health before it deteriorates.
Mindfulness or meditation isn’t as tough or complex as it sounds.
Remember to practice it consistently if you want to relish the benefits. It can help improve your concentration and your overall health. Find better solutions to your issues with a clear mind.
11. Make changes based on your own needs
After devoting your life to family and responsibilities, it’s now time to devote some to yourself. Disappointments are part of life but you can fix them with small changes.
Want to make a career out of your passion? Go on! Want a vacation? Book tickets to your destination right now.
Prioritize your needs and decorate your life with colors of your choice. There’s a limit to living for others, it’s time to focus on yours. If you feel inadequate or selfish without your loved ones in mind, then ask yourself, “Who are you? What’s your purpose?”
12. Get rid of Social Media
Social media hampers mental health with “faux happiness”. How much truth do those posts about others’ lives hold?
Not only do you waste precious time, but it’s a source of depression. People make fairy tales out of their lives on social media even if that’s not the case.
Also, peeping into others’ lives with an app is useless. Do something productive instead of spending it on social media. Pick up a new book or spend time doing something you like.
13. Hang out with like-minded people
If someone demotivates you, change your social circle. Midlife crisis gives you enough headaches, why let others’ thoughts bother you?
Befriend optimistic people who motivate you through life crises. Nobody needs a loud judgmental person beside them. Befriend people with common values and interests and compete with yourself.
Sometimes ignoring or avoiding pessimistic people becomes tough like a coworker, a relative, or a neighbor. But if you’re aware of their intentions, limit their access to your life.
14. Seek Therapy for Midlife Crisis
Therapy is the most professional solution for a midlife crisis. People can treat their mental health issues through it or find support for solving marital disruptions. The few recommended ones are…
1. Family Therapy
When a midlife crisis impacts the daily behavior of family members, like mistreating loved ones or ignoring each other’s needs, it’s best to seek family therapy.
Everyone in the family must pick out a time to discuss the issues, how it’s affecting them, and seek solutions.
They’ll find better ways to deal with emotions and learn to interact calmly leading to better outcomes.
2. Couples counseling
When there’s trouble in marital or romantic relationships due to either of you reaching midlife crisis, seek couples counseling. It will help you lead a better future with a lasting relationship.
3. Trauma therapy
Eye movement desensitization & reprocessing (EMDR), emotional freedom technique (EFT), and trauma-based cognitive behavioral therapy (TFCBT) are useful therapies for treating trauma during any of your life phases.
4. Cognitive-behavioral therapy
CBT helps in understanding the thoughts, attitudes, and emotions of patients and eradicates misconceptions about aging, beauty, and success.
Usually, therapists try to minimize negativity in the minds of the patients and substitute negativity with optimistic emotions for a healthier life.
15. Good Self-care can also help
Balanced meals, daily exercise, spending time on pleasurable activities or loved ones’ support, or joining self-care communities are some ways you can do self-care.
If you’re aware of your condition, seek expert advice to prevent making any life-changing decisions from emotional turmoil.
Also, pay attention to your overall health – physical and mental – there’s a connection between them.
Avoid any irrational sudden changes in life like divorce, cosmetic surgery, or a new business venture – take time and reflect on all the choices before you make the final decision.
Find something new and enlightening in your life. Investing in hobbies or a passion can help nurture positivity in life.
That was all for you. But if someone in your close circle is suffering from a midlife crisis… Here’s what you can do.
What to do when a loved one has a midlife crisis?
Helplessness is common if you see your close one experiencing a midlife crisis. But you might be all they need, so these are a few ways you can help them.
1. Lend your shoulder to lean on and an ear to listen
Sometimes, they want to vent their feelings out so you must lend an ear to listen to their rambles.
Try understanding their point of view… if it’s hard, try keeping yourself in their shoes. Their words will give you insights into the matter.
Also, don’t argue if you don’t agree, as this may further push them away from sharing their thoughts.
2. Show your concern with similar feelings
Even after identifying symptoms of a midlife crisis, refrain from saying that on their face. Chances are you’ll confuse them or they might misunderstand your intentions.
Show that you’re there to help, not judge. Sharing your own similar worries about aging or relationships can soothe them momentarily.
3. Encourage medical advice to your loved one
Tell them what you think about their condition honestly and express your thoughts on an expert consultancy. The situation might be an underlying health condition (mental or physical).
If tests come negative, get therapy about the concern. Reassure them that there’s a solution for this.
4. Seek help yourself instead
If your loved one denies consulting professionals, then contact one yourself. Consult them and take their advice for further treatment.
Build safe and secure boundaries for both and design a solution that allows you to be supportive of their condition.
5. Seek help instantly if you notice self-harming tendencies
If anyone becomes suicidal or endangers others’ lives, take immediate action. Possibly this person will not act to your requests for calming down, so call the emergency hotline in your area for a quick response.
Also, don’t leave this person alone, lest they take hazardous actions.
6. Give them space when they demand
If they don’t want you to interfere in their life, step back. However, to keep a check, silently keep tabs on their health from behind.
7. Take up new hobbies and introduce them to it
If you share a hobby with them, you’ll get more quality time, and understand their habits and dissatisfactions better. The roots of their troubles will finally come to surface.
So, take them out to the library and pick up some interesting books.
You can also specifically read these…
Books to help you through midlife crisis
Here are some inspiring books to cope through this phase…
1. The Middle Passage: From Misery to Meaning in Midlife – James Hollis
This jewel helps anyone experiencing a change in life. Be it adolescence or a midlife crisis, James Hollis explains the route to self-discovery.
Loving oneself or picking up confidence is hard, but once you do, you’ll thank me for recommending you this book.
Middle age is a tough period, so find the cheat code of falling in love with yourself, your achievements, and find yourself once again from the beginning. Learn that age really doesn’t defy your capabilities.
2. My Life in the Middle Ages: A survivor’s Tale – James Atlas
A tale about someone who denied aging, and how long it took him to come back to reality. This book isn’t the usual answer to your midlife crisis.
You won’t find any instruction to solve crises, instead, it’ll teach you multiple ways of being optimistic in the worst situations.
Learn that everyone is aging and someday it will all end. But, so what? Nobody is here for a long time, instead, make a good time out of whatever you got.
3. The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way And It Wasn’t My Fault And I’ll Never Do It again – P.J. O’Rourke
Addressing the boomers, this book shows how this post-war generation dealt through the years with their children, and some even with grandchildren. In the past years, they experienced many troubles, some are funny, others sad.
The book explains that in the end aging becomes inevitable and there’s nothing bad about it as long as you have company.
Even if you’re lamenting over these changes, friends and family will help you fight through this time.
Find more information about the Midlife Crisis here…
FAQs about Midlife Crisis
Though you learned how to identify and deal with midlife crises, there might be some basic questions spinning in your head.
For instance – the validity of this crisis, its connection with other mental health or social issues, whether anything’s good about it.
If it’s normal to experience it, about the validity of gender-based symptoms, even the happiness plot – you’ll know everything down here.
Midlife crisis is not a consistent phenomenon. It doesn’t happen at a specified age, the symptoms vary drastically, and the midlife crisis cases are very rare. So many inconsistencies led to researchers believing that the midlife crisis is not real.
As these symptoms can appear at any age, many also question the term “midlife”. Instead of denying the issue, they deny the term “crisis” as some believe it’s not a crisis.
Researchers define it differently, as a transitional phase in midlife which brings about multiple opportunities around this age.
People get a second chance in accomplishing forgotten dreams and researchers opine the term “crisis” sheds a negative light on this phase.
Adjustment disorder (a mental health issue) and midlife crisis have many common symptoms like stressing out from the new occurrences which can be someone’s death, or someone moving out.
Even if researchers debate on this phenomenon, the ones experiencing it know how difficult life seems. Perhaps it doesn’t happen to everyone or has been dismissed in many cultures, but the suffering of the patient is real.
Since the 1990s, divorce rates have increased in middle-aged people. They compromised for so long and refuse to do it anymore, indicating the connection between midlife crisis and divorce. Sometimes people feel they’ll do better with another partner or alone than a struggling marriage.
Few couples blame each other for not fulfilling each other’s expectations and forget that nobody is flawless. While some lose their zeal to stay together after their children move out, others just fall out of love.
Some people give in to superficial images of social media – either feeling that their partner has lost the charm or suffering in self-doubt triggered by aging.
Blaming their partner for irrelevant life crises also leads to divorce, and who’ll want to stay when the other bash them for the wrong reasons. People become sensitive at this age and both sides lose their patience leading to divorce.
When one person suffers from a midlife crisis, if the partner can’t pick up on the symptoms, they’ll suffer from helplessness too.
Only therapy can help them prevent a divorce or seek a peaceful divorce.
While dealing with midlife crises, many fall into a pit of depression. Well, there are people who define their depression during midlife as a midlife crisis. Some think depression is the cause of the midlife crisis, others feel depression is the result of the midlife crisis
Though the connection between midlife crisis and depression is vague, it’s true the depression rate in American women spikes between 40 to 60. Also, depression in middle-aged white men (45-55) spiked their suicidal tendencies.
The relation between midlife crisis and depression, mental health concerns, or suicide is hazy and either of them can occur to any individual of any age, gender, or culture. But one thing’s for certain: midlife depression worsens with external factors like lifestyle or circumstances.
Depression during midlife crisis exhibits the same symptoms as regular depression in both genders, but men express more aggressiveness and irritability during this phase.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s, both attack a human at a specific age, i.e., middle age. People don’t notice it during the initial phases because the patients undergo a shift in their attitude, and many misunderstand it as middle age irritability.
Many researchers report that five out of a hundred dementia cases began before 65. Early phase symptoms of dementia are often reckoned with trouble in planning, organizing, or thinking ahead.
All of these are similar to midlife crisis symptoms creating a bridge between the two.
Usually, people misconceive dementia symptoms for midlife crises and delay treatment. Life partners might misunderstand this as falling out of love and raise further complications like divorce.
Neither of them ever gives each other another chance to assess the situation and many marital relationships fall apart because of such mental health concerns.
As per 2016 research, midlife crises led people to two positive aspects, curiosity and creativity. People broke down facing the crisis, yet they didn’t stop. This crisis made them search for more.
Some had unrealized dreams, some found hidden passions, others invested themselves in new hobbies. The people who didn’t give up at the intimidation of this crisis found a new side of themselves – a side they never knew existed.
They searched for the things that brought happiness and didn’t settle until they found them. The research respondents used their uncertainty as fuel for their adventure for seeking contentment. Many found their life purpose and new doors opened in their lives.
Some also pursued their passions hard and made a living out of it, which seems like a fairy tale situation. A midlife crisis is difficult at the onset but when people head towards better ways in their life, it’s really a hidden bonus under the façade of a crisis.
Firstly, seek your identity and cultivate a sense of understanding about the world. Take time to identify something you’re good at, that gives you happiness, and something you want to pursue.
So, your first step ahead must be to identify your passions and connect them with the real world.
Next, believe in yourself, and keep faith in your capabilities before you jump in. Spend time with loved ones and share your worries with them to walk out of this situation.
Understand how your partner didn’t stop loving you but your own fear of “aging” has led you to this. Perhaps the expression of love changed through the years, but the love itself kept growing incessantly. Your child might move out but he/she will always remember you as their anchor.
Now invest time in something that makes you happy. This “something” might not have an ending or a well-defined goal. Like reading books, learning to surf, engaging in community activities, etc.
Just because there’s a positive aspect to this crisis, don’t dismiss yourself or your well-being. If you’re facing some mental issues seek immediate help rather than waiting until you figure things out. Here’s when…
1. If your emotional turmoil impacts the quality or duration of your sleep or you don’t feel hungry anymore. Perhaps you don’t get enough sleep, always feel tired, and have a low appetite.
2. If you experienced disruptions in your work life because of physical or emotional health concerns frequently. You either often fall sick, or some kind of ailment obstructs you from concentrating. Perhaps, you also feel your performance is dropping every day.
3. If you tend to express your dissatisfaction with life with your partner or family member more frequently, it’s time. Everything is his/her fault no matter what you subconsciously find a way to blame the other person.
4. When hobbies or pastime activities don’t interest you and you want more time with yourself, away from everyone and the commotion of your loved ones. Possibly you’re withdrawing yourself from everyone.
Many researchers opine that happiness declines around early adulthood possibly due to new responsibilities and stress, until around the mid-40s or by their 50s when their satisfaction quotient starts rising once again. This is like the deep hook of “U”.
The research is valid for over 130 nations worldwide and depends on no external factors. Researchers are still trying to find the causes behind this low dip between the 20s and 40s and the sudden peak in the 50s.
But according to some, people find their real purpose in life during that phase once they experience and learn enough about the world. Though it isn’t the same for every individual out there, it’s certain in high-income countries.
The connection between the midlife crisis with the slow and consistent decreasing gratification is clear. People who tend to notice the negatives more or face greater hardships reach the peak of dissatisfaction during midlife and imagine that life won’t get any better. Their pessimism triggers midlife crises more intensely.
Most researchers say that males and females experience midlife crises differently.
People define male midlife crisis with luxury cars, a divorce, an extra-marital affair, restarting family life, covering bald spots, indulgence in drugs or alcohol or even buying a fancy house.
And they define female midlife crisis with low sex drive or try at holding youthful beauty with surgery and implants.
But why can’t the alternate gender feel one gender’s symptoms? There’s no reason why a man cannot start obsessing over youthful beauty/handsomeness during a midlife crisis. Neither is there a reason for a woman to not purchase a sports car.
These gender stereotypes neither make sense nor increase chances of identifying midlife crisis symptoms because something doesn’t “align with their gender”. Moreover, people ignore the other genders with this stereotyping game.
Sure, menopause symptoms pronounce in women only and it might aggravate some symptoms of midlife crisis as well. Also, due to such stereotypes, many ignore their female partner’s sexual needs with their age because they “lose their sex drive” as per society.a
People study and work their whole life to secure their future, and live happily with their loved ones. But the groundwork of security is an illusion. A loved one’s loss or a parting can severely impact a person to crumble down this illusionary security.
The human race, unlike the animal kingdom, depends a lot on their family for the long term. So, any undesirable situation can pose a threat to stability and result in a crisis.
The society describes midlife crises as the hardships during the transitional phase around middle age. And, life is full of transitions – childhood, adolescence, adulthood, quarter-age, middle-age – every time a person moves on to the next stage, they face more struggles.
What’s more, they never cease and at some point, people believe that life is misery. Such thoughts lead to midlife crises, and as you notice, the complex thoughts during this phase are normal. Hence facing midlife crises is normal and part of human life.
A word from ThePleasantMind
Although it seems you or a close one is slowly reaching the end, it’s only a transition – like childhood to teenage or teenage to adulthood. Don’t forget that with every year, you become a wiser person.
It depends on your perception, do you see a half-filled glass or do you see a half-empty one?
There’s still another half left, and either way, you have an equal time, lots of dreams, great experiences, and tons of opportunities waiting for you.
Spend your life your way and if everything still seems dull, don’t forget to ring up your doctor!
Surabhi has a deep passion for words. She puts her heart and mind into whatever she pursues and craves for creative ventures. She has always been keen on creating original content that can make a difference. In her experience as a content writer, she has had the opportunity to work on several fields with Psychology being her favorite. Surabhi says, words have the power to transform the world, better than a sword. So she hopes to contribute her bit to this revolution. At ThePleasantConversation, she feels lucky to have the opportunity to share content capable of bringing about a change in the lives of the readers.