We often fear new changes—middle age is one such turn of events in life that we didn’t exclusively want to fathom. It’s a period of extreme confusion, midlife drastic changes, self-doubts, happiness slump, hormonal changes, and whatnot.
A survey conducted by Ipsos public affairs suggested that midlife crises make a man desire sports cars and make a woman desire stability in relationships, said Dan Jones. These are frequently the distractions midlife age uses to feel the perished youth again.
Victor Hugo defines “forty to be the old age of youth and sixties to be the youth of old age.”
People experiencing midlife crises dread losing their youth and unstable emotions that may come with hormonal changes. They struggle to accept their own mortality, are regularly plagued by severe denial of life, and spend their age regretting the past. A midlife crisis can be devastating to empty nesters or divorced partners.
Are you experiencing midlife transitions, too? Does life seem like a void after turning into your 40s—away from your teenage kids and youth? You might not be alone in this. Many middle-aged individuals claim to face a midlife crisis, but there’s little evidence of its existence.
What does the term midlife crisis mean?
There’s no universal definition for what a midlife crisis truly is—every individual experience something unconventional after reaching middle age. As a matter of fact, psychological surveys conclude the absence of midlife crises existence in many parts of the world.
However, not a single analysis can deny life dissatisfaction after reaching the gloomy forties and fifties. The triggering circumstances can be anything— job loss, empty nest syndrome, taking care of aging parents, family responsibilities, death of a parent, existential crisis, heavy denial towards life, etc.
- The Australian HILDA survey at Melbourne institute concludes age 45 to be the lowest life satisfaction period.
- A biological study on chimpanzees also witnessed dissatisfaction and mood swings in their late 20s and 30s. Another famous study, ‘happiness slump,’ represents the U-curve outline of your felicitous life—its highs and lows. The 40s-50s age in life spectators the lowest valley of happiness; the slope in the U (midlife dip).
People in their initial 40s and mid-50s frequently feel disregarded, remorseful, and regretful for things they haven’t achieved in life, whatever that’s left behind, and what little they have ahead of them.
Middle age subtly avoids the ups and downs of life and considers consciousness to be a fruitless loop. Nevertheless, it’s believed and reported that individuals are the happiest and most content after traversing their 60s and above.
When does the midlife crisis occur?
A general thumb rule establishes middle years of life to slump amidst the late-30s to the 50s, but this can differ from person to person. The average life expectancy of humans falls between 70-80 years.
The NCOA’s continuing study of myths and realities of aging reported that baby boomers (older adults) aged 70s defined themselves as middle-aged. Another study suggests, people in their early 30s until 50 considered themselves middle-aged.
However, is age truly the real culprit behind the so-called midlife crisis? Have you ever not encountered crises before or after this distinguished midlife period? You have probably faced disasters throughout your life; you plainly seem to discern them more vividly after registering your early-30s or late-30s.
One popular study compared the statistics of differently-aged groups and if midlife was the true accused behind these gloomy days. The percentage of individuals that faced a crisis— 40-45% younger adults (late-teens) in their 20s reported facing crises, 49% individuals in their 30s recorded enduring dilemmas.
Fundamentally, people can experience crises at any given point in life or stage of life. Consequently, a midlife crisis isn’t an official mental health diagnosis but rather a virtuous transition element where crises occur irrespective of age.
Symptoms of Midlife crisis and how to differentiate it from depression?
Midlife crisis isn’t a sanctioned diagnosis, and it’s relatively challenging to map out universal statements towards its signs, causes, natural appearance, and struggles.
Therefore, most of these analyses depend on middle-aged people’s concrete responses, experiences, and breakthroughs. However, each narrative, every manifestation, and every cause might differ.
Thus, theorists and psychologists alike have a laborious time coining the realistic impression of midlife crisis.
The unrelenting feeling you witness during midlife crises isn’t very much altered from what you might feel while dealing with crises in your youth or at any given point in life.
The feeling of uneasiness, confusion, uncertainty, daunting happiness, and looming depression isn’t partial towards differently-aged groups. Whatever the cause may be, humans experience similar despair throughout life.
Yet, we cannot completely deny the signs of these midlife crises:
- Startling obsession towards youthful materialistic things like sports cars, divorce, expensive possessions to feel accomplished.
- Impulsive and reckless decisions like divorce or relocation.
- Lack of personal hygiene
- Physical changes including sleep loss, weight loss/gain, and the overall decline in physical strength.
- Behavioral and psychological major changes including mood swings, heightened anger, creeping anxiety, sadness, numbness, impulses.
- A midlife decline in motivation.
Causes of midlife crises—Can you overcome them?
Irrespective of the cause, you can continually overcome them! Overcoming tough times is what changes us—it’s what makes us stronger! When you acknowledge the cause behind your turmoil, you can learn to accept it and move on with it.
Again, these midlife causes and triggers can be distinctive for every individual. Entering your late-30s or early-40s is the transitioning period of your lifetime—your teens are growing apart, your life’s reached a certain threshold where death seems apparent and more convinced, you miss your youthful days, regrets towards things undone, dreams left disappointed, and desires forsaken.
All these notions come hastening down towards you, and the burden is almost suffocating. People with midlife crises hold onto ‘what ifs’ often and regret their unfruitful past decisions and mistakes.
As cliche as it might sound, you must learn to let go of what cannot be changed, appreciate what was given to you, and acknowledge the fresh virtuous commencement. The doubtful appearance of the late 30s and early 40s is actually disguised curiosity and uncertainty of the ever-changing life.
- You don’t feel young anymore, and life seems dull.
- Letting go of your kids and becoming empty nesters is unbearable.
- Hormonal changes during your 40s.
- Loss of family members.
- Job loss or bothersome job duties.
- A financial crisis cannot be avoided, and retirement seems unobtainable
- You feel old; the wrinkles and physical appearances make you miserable.
- Death seems close, although it’s far away.
Midlife crisis in men and middle-aged women.
Midlife crises are more of a societal norm than a substantial psychological diagnosis. Civilization devours, affirms, and embraces youth. Anything that’s not youthful isn’t acknowledged gracefully. Consequently, most of these midlife crises are stereotypical.
Community, culture, and society altogether make men and women act in their stereotypical limitations. A man is most likely to feel separated from his wife, preceding life, and associations. He endeavors the vigorous drill in office affairs, severe drinking, departing or detaching himself from the family, refurbishing fashion, and becoming more successful as an escape to midlife crises.
Customarily, younger women were considered to face relationship despair, self-doubts, insecurities regarding their aging looks, longing for their teenage kids, divorced/distant husband, etc. The stereotypical personality of a woman and her midlife crisis revolves around her family, husband, and kids.
Today’s stereotypical definition of a woman’s midlife crisis has shifted drastically. Women presently undergo midlife crises over their ambitions, reputation in society, achievements and failure, family, husband, kids, relationships, lost youth, and approaching mortality.
Stages of midlife crisis
Carl Jung, a swiss psychologist, and psychiatrist, divided the innate midlife crisis/transitions into five specific stages of life—accommodation, separation, liminality, reintegration, and individuation.
- Accommodation: Succumb to societal demands and rely on acceptance. This is a pre-transition stage.
- Separation: The stage of questioning existential criteria and doubting societal conservative limitations and regulations.
- Liminality: A clearer perception and questioning between what’s expected by society and what you expect from yourself. “Adaptive personae and personal preference.”
- Reintegration: Choosing and setting your personal priorities above society and communities.
- Individuation: Self-awareness, spiritualism, silver lining, and progression.
Studies are as skeptical about midlife crises as individuals struggling with them are. It’s challenging to presume how long these midlife crises will continue to hammer you down and when precisely will this phase of life proceed to a conclusion?
In fact, we can never distinguish the trigger for midlife crises. It may or may not be the designated analogy. Midlife crises can transpire due to reminiscing past experiences rather than current affairs.
- Denial: We disclaim antiquity, reality, and gone youthful radiance. Men and women alike resort to supplements, makeovers, plastic surgeries to restore their youth.
- Anger and mood swings: Being in denial accelerates your underlying emotions and stirs your heart out negatively. You might find yourself signifying violence, anger, yelling because you don’t possess authority over time, age, and youth.
- Reminiscing past: Sometimes, we skip our present reality and dive into past situations that make us feel young and happy. We are often found daydreaming rather than living the present.
- Depression: Phases and changes can be unbearing. All these emotions—melancholy, rage, hopelessness, turmoil, and strangled feelings become the grimace of depression.
- Withdrawal and depression symptoms: You cast yourself away from your family, companions, partners, kids and live life in solitude.
- Acceptance: Youth is elegant but so are middle-age and old-age. Accepting that midlife is just as lively as youth will encourage you to pull through. Accepting reality will help you appreciate it.
The best way to resolve midlife crises is by acknowledging and accepting your reality and the beauty of middle age. It may or may not take years to understand life. Once you do realize it, you can approach it more boastfully. If you cannot help yourself, seek guidance, and don’t be scared while sharing your content.
If you are not comfortable around your family and friends, seek professional cooperation!
Midlife vs. depression
A multitude of variabilities can trigger depression. Midlife crises may provoke depression, or the looming depression may be the cause of midlife crises.
All in all, it’s a significant element of our mental and social health. We mustn’t consider symptoms of depression and enduring depression as two separate solicitudes.
Likewise, midlife crisis and depression are more comparable than we permit ourselves to believe. They are scenarios of the same boat.
Men and women both suffer from depression in their midlife, and it may be the trigger or after-effect of a midlife crisis. Studies suggest, almost 12% of women aged 40-50 in the United States feel depressed (that’s the highest percentage all around the world.)
Middle-aged American men have the highest rate of suicide and suicidal thoughts. Sometimes, the overwhelming emotions can be too much to bear. While midlife crisis’ mental dilemmas are more cramped than depression, the dilemmas shouldn’t be avoided.
If your symptoms worsen and start to affect your mental, personal, and physical health, it’s time that you seek professional supervision.
Midlife crisis: a transition or depression?
“When you cannot change the directions of the wind, adjust the sail.”
—H. Jackson Brown
Acceptance is bliss, and it’s exclusively through acceptance that you can move on. While many individuals consider midlife a crisis, some assert it contrarily.
A longitudinal study conducted by the National Institute on Aging, Baltimore, insinuates that numerous individuals traversing their midlife were self-acknowledged, more confident in their skin, and more accepting in the virtue of life, age, and time.
While few reflected midlife to be a whirlpool of confusion, changes, and departure of youth, others considered it a curiosity voyage, life’s unusually creative episode, good news, and shrewdness era.
Of course, the late-40s and early-50s are the new chapters of your memoir. Recall it; you will no longer be held responsible for your kids, divorces open a whole new world, one job loss may commence to something more generous, more beneficial, and a new career change. Life’s all about fruitful possibilities.
A bewildered state of mind will lead to various inquisitions and curiosity towards life. Midlife crises don’t restrain and revolve around family, life partners, and jobs; they can incorporate your religion, community, and financial status as well.
The late-40s is a sumptuous timeframe to explore your new possibilities, maturity, wisdom, human development, and spirituality.
All in all, what’s life without frequent highs and lows? Some renowned scholars and theorists acknowledge that midlife crises can be real and overwhelming, but you can perpetually overcome them through acceptance and acknowledge the beauty of midlife.
Seek professional help
Even if your midlife crisis symptoms are meek, approach professional aid; nonetheless, experts can get you through a midlife crisis and calm your disastrous, impulsive decisions.
It’s of utmost significance to remedy your uncertainty and crises before it worsens and directs you to depression. A transitional period can be overpowering, but changes are always for the best.
Midlife crisis may scratch concealed traumas like sexual assault, abuse, marriage disfunction, corroded relationships because midlife does supervise infinite thought processes. More thoughtful exploration for meaningfulness will direct you to many revelations.
Try to discover the sense of purpose behind your own unfoldings; you seek answers; you look for something deeper and more apprehensive than a materialistic life. This turnaround may expose old wounds, and therapy will help you heal them and yourself through them.
Midlife crises may be deep-rooted to past episodes, societal norms, emotional and physical changes. Instead of analyzing it as a crisis, propose middle age as a methodical yet graceful aspect of life. Middle age is exquisite!
Life will nevertheless have its ups and downs. Without hurdles and emotional barriers, our life’s an old, empty, boring vessel.
“Life has its ups and downs. When you are up, enjoy the scenery. When you are down, touch the soul of your being and feel the beauty.”
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