Image credit: Flickr
Image credit: Flickr

Midlife crisis refers to a stage in human life when a man/woman believes he/she has reached the halfway mark of life or a certain milestone. It’s an emotional transition phase that may cause people to look back at life, where they currently are, and the things they must change or not change for the remaining years. Those who manage to take this transition in their stride are likely to move forward positively. However, the majority find the situation a distressing experience. Though not a conventional medical problem, midlife crisis scenarios may cause depression and anxiety.

There is no specific midlife crisis age; it could differ based on people’s expectations from life and perceived lifespan. Generally, people experience midlife crisis anywhere between 40 and 55 years of age. Contrary to common perception, a midlife crisis is not necessarily something bad or negative. It may also signify the next phase of life. In fact, it could be a quest for identity. For instance, women who want to head back to school after having raised their kids are supposedly in a midlife crisis situation.

Vulnerable Groups & Causes

People who live their life to the fullest are the least susceptible to midlife crisis scenarios. However, people who focus little on their life aspirations and goals are more likely to face the crisis. Individuals who work hard, stick to routine life and don’t venture out to try things they’re passionate about will inevitably get struck by a midlife crisis situation.

The following events can cause a midlife crisis scenario:

  • Major life changes such as long-term illness, divorce, layoff or bereavement.
  • Aging or when kids grow into adults.
  • Unsatisfactory performance (at midlife) professionally or as husband/wife, father/mother, or both.
  • Excessive debt accumulation.
  • Having accomplished everything in life, and not sure what to do next. In other words, boredom can cause the crisis.
  • When loneliness sets in and there’s no one around to open-heartedly talk to.

Symptoms

A midlife crisis scenario is usually around the corner when a person has any or all of the following:

  • Mood swings or low mood that lasts for days or weeks together
  • Continuous feeling of unhappiness
  • Feeling depressed even when doing things that made him/her happy before
  • Lacking energy and feeling tired and hopeless
  • Lack of concentration or focus when doing even the simplest tasks
  • Little sleep or oversleeping (hypersomnia)
  • Erectile dysfunction or libido loss
  • Feelings of pessimism or worthlessness
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Extreme diet changes
  • Desire to spend more time with the younger generation, for their ideas and energy may seem stimulating
  • Regretting the choice of spouse
  • Unhappy with the society and its future path
  • Nostalgia about or the desire to time-travel to childhood or youth

As aforementioned, a midlife crisis is not just about disappointment, sorrow or distress. It could also signify a passion to do something new or complete incomplete tasks. For instance, men with lesser professional and personal commitments may take up cooking or volunteer with kids, or want to get physically fit. Women, on the other hand, may want to become more independent and not spend all of their time serving their families.

Resolving Crisis

Midlife crisis is invariably inevitable, but there are ways to restore sanity or tread through the phase stronger.

  • Effect any change that will help you become a better person.
  • Explore the world. Learn new things and get to meet new people. Develop fresh skills and bring buried passions and interests to life. For instance, if you wanted to play a particular sport, hit the gym, or learn swimming, then just do it.
  • Learn to accept the inevitable – such as the loss of a friend or family member. Embrace life the way it is and cut down expectations.
  • Stay patient, and wait for things to happen. Meditation can help find peace during the situation.
  • Seeking counselling or psychotherapy is recommended too.