Middle age is an interesting period in life. You’re not young anymore, and you’re not old yet. For many people, it’s a transitional period, so it’s no surprise that midlife is often associated with changes, whether it be changes in relationships, career, or lifestyle.
As we get older, our appearance and health also change. In middle age, many people start to think more about their mortality and the things they did or didn’t accomplish throughout their lives.
Middle age is also the midlife crisis age. Some people struggle with the changes they go through and deal with depression or other mental health issues. In this case, the best solution might be to talk to a therapist. For instance, you can try online talk therapy so you won’t even need to drive to a therapist’s office.
However, some people cope with their emotional problems differently. The common stereotypes about a person in a midlife crisis who abandons their responsibilities to have fun, try extreme sports, or engage in chaotic relationships exist for a reason.
So, how can you understand whether you’re facing a crisis or just feel young and full of energy? What is a midlife crisis, and what are its symptoms? Here’s what you should know.
The term “midlife” has no strict definition. Generally, this is a period from the age of 40 to the age of 65. However, it’s important to keep in mind that all people’s lives are different, and a midlife crisis is more about significant changes than numbers. Therefore, the midlife crisis age may vary.
According to the National Survey of Midlife in the United States, most people report dealing with a midlife crisis before their 40s or after the age of 50. The vast majority of the survey participants note that their crisis was triggered by major life events, like a loss of a loved one, retirement, divorce, or relocation, rather than a certain age.
Moreover, many people go through a quarter-life crisis in their mid-20s, and in this case, a crisis is also usually caused by major changes, because at this age, many people leave their parents’ houses and enter adult life.
When people enter their 40s, they often realize that their roles in relationships change. Their parents need additional care and support as they get older, while their kids become more and more independent.
In the 1910s, psychologists even came up with the term “empty nest syndrome,” which they used to describe depression that people experience when their children leave home. For many people, children are the most important part of their lives so it’s no surprise that some of them feel like their lives become less meaningful.
Even people who don’t have kids, however, may deal with a midlife crisis. Financial concerns, menopause, declining libido, health problems, and many other things that often come with middle age don’t contribute to emotional stability and may lead to an increased feeling of frustration and disappointment.
As you can see, it’s impossible to talk about a midlife crisis without mentioning major life events, many of which are negative. Besides, it can be difficult to ignore the fact that you age. However, does that mean that a midlife crisis is inevitable? Is it something everyone should expect?
The truth is that research data doesn’t support the idea that middle age is necessarily an age of crisis. There’s no doubt that many people go through crises in their 40s and 50s, and research data also suggests that the average level of life satisfaction decreases during the midlife period.
However, there’s a significant variation between individuals in terms of both age and emotional health. Some people reach the peak of their career development during these years, while others discover new interests, stay active, and live fulfilling lives.
At the same time, people who are not satisfied with their lives may feel frustrated and engage in self-deprecation, meaning that they may downplay the good things in their lives and only focus on the negative aspects instead.
First of all, the term “midlife crisis” is not an officially recognized diagnosis. It’s rather a buzzword so it should be treated accordingly. Even researchers who’ve studied this phenomenon have yet to agree on a clear definition of a midlife crisis, and the existing research data directly depends on the respondents’ understanding of what a crisis is.
The American Psychological Association, however, recognizes such a thing as an emotional crisis. According to the APA, an emotional crisis is characterized by quick noticeable changes in a person’s behavior. For example, people in an emotional crisis may:
- Experience significant changes in mood (e.g. sadness, irritability, anger, etc.);
- Ignore personal hygiene;
- Lose interest in their relationships and regular activities;
- Gain or lose weight;
- Experience significant changes in their sleep habits.
Many people who experience depression in their 40s refer to it as a midlife crisis. Does depression cause the crisis or vice versa? Well, here’s where the term “midlife crisis” can be particularly misleading.
Depression, anxiety, and many other mental issues that arise during midlife are all different disorders so there’s no point in using the same term for all mental health problems that people may experience at a certain age.
There are many stereotypes about the midlife crisis so it’s important to keep in mind that it’s not a real diagnosis. People experience crises at different ages, and not all of us go through a crisis in our 40s. Moreover, not everyone goes through a midlife crisis.
Midlife, however, is a difficult period for many people. If you experience symptoms of depression or need any kind of emotional support, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. A licensed therapist can help you figure out the causes of your emotional problems and suggest effective coping strategies.
If you don’t have much time to commute to a therapist’s office, you can also use online therapy platforms like Calmerry and talk to therapists remotely, without even leaving your home. Learn more about therapy to get ready for your first session.