Midlife Crisis

Authored by Matthew Idle

Edited by Alexander Bentley

Reviewed by Michael Por

What is midlife crisis?

 

When a person enters the middle years of life, it is claimed they do uncharacteristic things to combat growing older. From buying a sports car to getting plastic surgery to dating someone half their age, there are plenty of examples people use to describe a midlife crisis. All of which are often used in humorous or critical ways to describe someone’s experiences and choices by others11.M. E. Lachman, S. Teshale and S. Agrigoroaei, Midlife as a Pivotal Period in the Life Course: Balancing Growth and Decline at the Crossroads of Youth and Old Age – PMC, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved October 3, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4286887/. A midlife crisis is no joke, however. It is a real experience that millions of people go through and cannot be satiated by material possessions.

 

Due to the long-held belief that a midlife crisis is a joke and shouldn’t be taken seriously, there has been little research done on the matter. It has become a controversial topic in psychology. In spite of being scoffed at by many in the psychology field, it is true that people often struggle to transition into a new phase of life when they hit middle age.

 

Why does this occur? In midlife, many people experience their children moving out of the family home, a change in relationships, career changes, and a lack of identity forms. All of these factors come together to create a midlife crisis.

 

At a specific age, a person can begin experiencing emotional distress. It is believed that the distress is created as an individual comes to terms with their own mortality. When most people hit this mid-point in their lives, they do not experience the “fun” side of getting older. Rather they become depressed, anxious, angry, sleepless, and find dissatisfaction in various areas of their lives. All of these items can combine to end careers and relationships.

Addiction

 

A person going through a midlife crisis can discover they suddenly consume more alcohol than previously in life. Anxiety and depression can cause a person to find a way to end the feelings. If drinking alcohol no longer works, a person can turn to prescription medication or harder street drugs to fill the void.

Midlife Crisis in Women vs Men

 

Some women find themselves facing a challenging (and possibly eye-opening) time anywhere between their 40s and early 50s — something that’s been referred to as a “midlife crisis.” The term, coined in the ’60s, refers to a crisis of self-identity and self-confidence that can happen around mid-age.

 

Men in midlife crises feel hopelessly trapped in an identity or lifestyle they experience as constraining, fueled by an acute awareness of time passing22.H. J. M. Hermans and P. K. Oles, Midlife Crisis in Men: Affective Organization of Personal Meanings – Human Relations, SpringerLink.; Retrieved October 3, 2022, from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1016972717003. Finding themselves in a life that feels empty and inauthentic, they feel pressure to break out, and may desperately grasp at a chance for vitality and pleasure.

Average Age for Midlife Crisis

 

There is no set age for a midlife crisis although as its name suggests a midlife crisis tends to occur in mid-life. This can be as young as mid thirties and even people in their fifties are often said to be suffering from mid life crisis. Above this age individuals may be said to be experiencing a later life crisis.

Senior Life Crisis

 

Whilst everyone is aware of the term ‘midlife crisis’ there is another life stage that brings with it a number of challenges. In later life individuals can often suffer from what is called a later life crisis. This later life crisis is not simply a delayed midlife crisis, nor is it just about retirement and loss of routine. Later life crisis tends to manifest around the death of a loved one or serious illness. It is the shocking and stark reminder of human mortality and the realization that time marches on relentlessly as older generations make way in the world for new generations.

 

Anxiety

 

Becoming aware of one’s mortality and the realization that death could occur due to health reasons can cause anxiety in a person. People in their 40s and 50s begin to look back on their lives and review the choices they made. A person’s appearance in midlife can also cause distress as they grow unhappy with the way they now look.

Burnout

 

By the time a person gets into middle age, they have potentially worked at the same job for around 20 years. A person can become burnt out around this time after doing the same thing over and over again. Motivation can disappear with individuals simply showing up and going through the motions to receive a paycheck. Burnout is a common occurrence and depression can form. Midlife burnout can take an extreme hold of a person’s life and make them incredibly difficult to live with or be around.

 

Midlife crisis is real and can have detrimental effects on a person’s life. Luckily, there are residential rehabs that can help individuals suffering from a midlife crisis and their effects.

 

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  • 1
    1.M. E. Lachman, S. Teshale and S. Agrigoroaei, Midlife as a Pivotal Period in the Life Course: Balancing Growth and Decline at the Crossroads of Youth and Old Age – PMC, PubMed Central (PMC).; Retrieved October 3, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4286887/
  • 2
    2.H. J. M. Hermans and P. K. Oles, Midlife Crisis in Men: Affective Organization of Personal Meanings – Human Relations, SpringerLink.; Retrieved October 3, 2022, from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A:1016972717003
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