Midlife Crisis: Definition, Signs, Stages, Timeline & Solutions
Being in a midlife crisis could cause an immense amount of emotional turmoil to individuals. Feelings of depression could significantly overtake one’s life, leading to long-term emotional issues and poor relationships.
Job performance could be negatively impacted, and life satisfaction often plummets. Sometimes, individuals going through a very hard time seem to believe that there is no way to get out of their crisis.
Even suicide rates could increase as a result of living a stressful life and going through suffering. Counseling could be overly expensive, which leads to people not taking action to get themselves out of depressive states. However, there are ways to overcome the midlife blues.
This article will describe how you can recognize a crisis and the multiple strategies you can use to overcome such turmoil.
What is a Midlife Crisis? Theory and Definition
The particular term ‘midlife crisis’ is somewhat new to the psychological field. In fact, it only started to be widely recognized in the 1980s. Unlike terms such as depression, schizophrenia, anorexia, and other psychological conditions, this form of crisis does not have such strict diagnostic criteria.
It can occur to anyone of any age. Some believe that the time a crisis occurs depends on your life expectancy and location. Usually, a midlife crisis occurs during the ages of 37 to 50. They tend to follow major life transitions.
For instance, it is common to see this type of life crisis after your first child leaves for college, your parents pass away, or your divorce a long-time partner. In general, all crises are periods of emotional instability, fear, and withdrawal, while symptoms vary from person to person.
How to Recognize Midlife Crisis Stages to Prevent Mental Breakdown
To successfully get out of a midlife crisis, early identification is key. There are typically a few common signs you can look out for as signals of a crisis. Usually, some life events trigger one’s desire to be young again.
You may be overly fearful of your own mortality. Also, it is common to become neglectful of your personal hygiene. Some individuals stop showering, brushing their teeth, or combing their hair. Others change their sleeping habits drastically.
This can include sleeping far more than the recommended 8 hours, or the opposite: neglecting sleep outright. Sudden weight gain or loss can sometimes signal midlife crisis sadness as well. Keep an especially close eye on your mood, emotions, and passion/interest levels.
If you notice that you become far more reserved and withdrawn, this is a sign of early emotional distress. Anger, irritability, sadness, confusion, and anxiety are all emotions that arise with midlife distress.
If you are experiencing such symptoms and cannot seem to overcome them on your own, do not be afraid of seeking out professional help. Remember, there are trained professionals who specialize in dealing specifically with this type of crisis.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of a Midlife Crisis?
Every individual has their own unique way of dealing with crises during midlife. However, there are usually a few common coping mechanisms and symptoms that a large portion of the population exhibit. During times of crisis, nearly everyone experiences some loss of passion.
Even activities that were previously exciting become boring. People may stop connecting with those they love, preferring to spend their time alone. Fear of mortality is especially common in older sufferers. Other key signs and symptoms include:
Midlife Crisis Examples For Men: 5 Examples
- Dissatisfaction with relationships, career, marriage, or help.
- Decreased stamina and energy; feeling lethargic for long periods of time.
- Being overly concerned about appearance.
- Feeling the need to make major changes in one’s life structure.
- Believing you have no control over your destiny and being prone to giving up quickly.
Midlife Crisis Examples For Women: 5 Examples
- Lack of ability to experience emotions (especially positive emotions).
- A constant feeling/thought that you are not good enough.
- Turning down opportunities that previously sounded appealing.
- Not being able to sleep through the night (often due to worrying and restlessness).
- Maintaining a negative outlook on your future.
Midlife Crisis – At What Age is Mostly Active & How to Overcome?
Age-related distress can occur at any point in time. However, such stress is usually different between age groups. During your 30s, your symptoms are less likely to be focused on mortality and more likely to revolve around the withdrawal.
The reverse is true of older individuals. Regardless, here are a few ways that the dreaded midlife crisis affects different age groups:
Midlife Crisis at Age of 30+ & How to Prepare?
A crisis rarely inflicts individuals younger than 30, and the most common time they would occur is around age 37. This is so because this age is usually the turning point for a midlife transition. People begin to realize they are not so young anymore and may start to yearn for the freedom, health, and innocence they experienced as younger people.
Prepare for these feelings as someone in your thirties. Try to hold on to some of your youthfulness by partaking in some thrilling activities and keeping up with your passions. Leave behind any strained relationship and move on from unsatisfactory careers.
Also, prepare yourself for the time in life where your children age as well. The crisis may occur when you see your children grow up too quickly. Learn to love the process of their growth early on and maintain strong relations with them, even if your relationship changes from prior years.
Midlife Crisis at Age of 40+ & How to Overcome?
This stage in life is often viewed as the most complicated. It is therefore no doubt that a decline in happiness may occur when one terms 40. A large portion of people finds themselves unsatisfied in their jobs.
In fact, a recent Gallup poll found that a staggering 85 percent of people find their jobs unfulfilling. This leads to feelings of regret, shame, and dissatisfaction. Do not be afraid to change the course of your career, even if you are already established within a certain field.
It would also be beneficial to connect with others, possibly doing an activity you both enjoy. Practice gratitude, make new friends and make sure you do not regret not taking advantage of certain opportunities. Doing this can give you a boost of happiness, which helps you avoid emotional crises.
How to Turnover Midlife Crisis Depression Into Growth
Fortunately, there are ways you can turn a miserable crisis into an opportunity for self-development. Start by prioritizing your values and yourself. Focus energy on asking what you truly want in life.
A large decline in happiness begins during midlife, often because people start to experience burnout during this time. Be sure this is not the case for you. Ensure your job is something you would love to do for the rest of your life. Try to learn something new.
Expose yourself to new ideas and activities which can renew your youthfulness and vibrancy. Such activities can keep your mind active and your mind energized. Also, reflect on the positive changes that midlife has brought about.
Expressing gratitude can reframe your mind so that you become more positive in general. Be sure to dedicate time to your loved ones. Reconnect with them and try to maintain strong bonds with your friends, family, colleagues, and spouse.
These individuals can act as your support system during a crisis. During this stage of life, many sources of relationship stress may arise. Be sure to spend time with your spouse to rekindle and strengthen your feelings for one another.
Can a Relationship Survive a Midlife Crisis?
A romantic relationship can already be difficult to maintain, but this difficulty is only amplified during times of crisis. The family therapist usually believes that the lack of emotion and passion during a crisis negatively impacts relationships.
Nonetheless, it is possible to overcome a crisis with your partner. Once again, the key is to identify a crisis early on before the situation escalates out of control. Obvious signs of marriage issues should be addressed.
If you see that your partner is clearly going through a time of crisis, offer to support them during this time of need. Your selflessness can help the sufferer feel more reconnected with you and it could help them overcome the root of the problem. If you cannot handle the situation on your own, remember that you can go to a therapist.
They are trained to help individuals going through a tough time in their midlife. The therapist’s experience can be used to your advantage, as they can quickly identify the root problem of your spouse’s uncomfortable feelings.
Midlife Crisis: 5 Inspiring Quotes
Quotes can be a great source of information and inspiration to people going through a tough time. They can provide real-life examples of people who overcome difficult circumstances. Such stories can often inspire others to use the same positive strategies as the individuals giving the quotes.
A few quotes that could inspire you to include:
- “There is no anti-aging more potent than a young lover bursting with lust for your middle age vulnerability who pulls you out of rut with his arduous banter and make you whole again with his benevolent smirk”- Nalini Priyadarshni
- “There was a time when people had the decency to wait until they were approaching 50 to have a mid-life crisis. Now it seems many thirtysomethings find themselves succumbing to existential navel-gazing” – Mark Barrowcliffe
- “I wouldn’t go back on my old days, though; everybody needs to have their wild years. It’s just a question of when and I’d rather have had them early than be doing it as a mid-life crisis type thing” – Rob Lowe
- “Midlife crisis begins sometime in your 40s, when you look at your life and think, ‘Is this all?’ And it ends about 10 years later, when you look at your life again and think, ‘Actually, this is pretty good.'” – Donald Richie
- “The only big life challenge I think I’m worried about is a mid-life crisis because I’ve done so little. I think if people who’ve lived normal lives have mid-life crises and buy motorbikes, what is a man who’s done nothing?” – Jon Richardson
Bonus: 5 Best Books on Midlife Crisis
- You Light Up My Midlife Crisis: A Paranormal Women’s Fiction Novel: Good to the Last Death Book Five by Robyn Peterman
- How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer by Sarah Bakewell
- In Our Prime: The Invention of Middle Age by Patricia Cohen
- The Summer Before the Dark by Doris Lessings
- The Middle Passage: From Misery to Meaning in Mid-Life By James Hollis
Frequently Asked Questions About Midlife Crisis
What causes midlife crisis?
A major change in life circumstances usually causes the onset of a midlife crisis. Sometimes, this can be the death of one’s parents, a divorce, one’s children moving out, or the loss of a career.
It can sometimes occur from realizing your own mortality and acknowledging the fact that you may not be so young anymore, or a fear of death/aging. Physical aging could also trigger individuals to go into a depressive state.
How do I stop the midlife crisis?
There are a number of ways you can avoid the loss of life purpose associated with a midlife crisis. Consider partaking in some activities that you enjoyed during youth, especially with your loved ones.
Practice gratitude for everything you have and surround yourself with positivity. Ensure that you are satisfied with your career and with your relationships. If you are single, do not be afraid of looking for a partner. Finally, try to embrace who you truly are. Invest in whatever makes you feel happy and activities that make you fulfilled.
How long do midlife crisis stages last?
Midlife crisis stages last a different time depending on the individual and the time of their crisis onset, as well as why the crisis occurred. In general, however, the first stage is denial. Then, people feel angry about circumstances in their midlife. They may try to ‘replay’ their youth by participating in activities that made them feel young.
The longest stage, which can last for months, is the depressive state which comes after realizations your mortality. Then, one withdraws from prior enjoyed activities. Finally, they accept that midlife comes with changes, but also begin to look forward to the next stage of their life.
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