How long does a midlife crisis last for men
How Long Does a Midlife Crisis Last?
What is a Midlife Crisis?
Before addressing how long a midlife crisis lasts we need to address what a midlife crisis is. According to the dictionary, a mid-life crisis (first used by Canadian psychologist Elliott Jaques in 1965) is ‘a loss of self-confidence and feelings of anxiety or disappointment that can occur in early middle age’.
When Does a Midlife Crisis Start?
When does a midlife crisis start (if at all) and how long does it last? As you may expect, there are no definitive answers to these two questions; as with much in life, it will depend on the individual.
Some people may begin to question their lives in their 30’s and completely re-invent themselves at that stage. For others the trigger for a rethink maybe children leaving home and, as people are becoming parents later in life, that may well not be until they reach their late fifties. However, the term is generally thought of as encompassing the years between the ages of 45 and 64.
How Long Does a Midlife Crisis Last for Men and Women?
There is little scientific research that formally identifies how long a midlife crisis lasts but anecdotally it is thought that it lasts between three to ten years in men and two to five years in women.
Why the difference? Well, the female menopause is one of the main stresses for women and the peri-menopause (the time in the run up to the last menstruation) lasts an average of four years – a rather neat correlation. Although there is evidence that hormonal changes (lowering of testosterone levels) in men may play a part in a male midlife crisis, it is less clear cut than for women and it is more likely that men are affected more by the perceived loss of youth than by a drop in testosterone.
How Do You Know You’re in a Midlife Crisis?
Below is a list of six commonly perceived stages of a midlife crisis which may help you identify if you, or a loved one, have entered a crisis:
Stages of a Midlife Crisis
- Denial: the urge to deny the inevitability of aging; suddenly paying a great deal of attention to the way they dress: dying hair (to hide the grey): joining a gym: having plastic surgery: staying out partying etc.
- Anger: riling against the perceived unfairness of life and the realisation that there is nothing can be done to stop the ageing process. This can be the ‘run away’ stage when the urge to escape the inevitability of growing older overwhelms
- Replay: attempting to recapture the past. This can manifest itself in several ways such as having an affair, doing things they wouldn’t have considered before, leaving a job, wanting to travel to places they’ve never mentioned before, becoming irresponsible (acting like a teenager)
- Depression: the lowest point in the cycle when the realisation that despite the actions in the Replay stage life has not changed as they may have wished (unless a true life purpose emerged as a result of the Replay stage) in which case this stage and the next (Withdrawal) may not be experienced
- Withdrawal: coming to terms with what they have done in the Replay and Depression stages; facing up to the pain they may have caused others and either rebuilding damaged relationships or withdrawing from them completely, which could, in some circumstances result in separation and divorce from the spouse
- Acceptance: life has changed, there is no going back, accepting and embracing whatever is the new reality
Of course, within these six areas every individual will react differently. For some people the Replay stage will be the point they discover, or rediscover, a true life passion or purpose which they may have denied (or allowed to be subsumed in order to earn a living) and by choosing to follow this path in midlife they will actually be finding new happiness and fulfilment.
The length of each of these stages will also vary according to the individual and, as noted above, not everyone will experience all of them. For some, the introspection of re-evaluating life may actually be so cathartic that the entire concept of a ‘crisis’ is redundant and their later years thus become some of the happiest of their lives.
We are as a society demanding of absolutes, however, in the case of midlife crises there aren’t any, indeed many scientists who actually dispute whether midlife crises actually exist at all. There is little evidence that people undergo midlife crises in Japanese and Indian cultures, raising the question of whether a it’s mainly a cultural construct; both of those societies being far less youth centric than the West. That being said, midlife does mark a significant change in lifestyle for most and it’s important to adapt.
Some research appears to demonstrate that individuals who change jobs/careers before midlife have a greater sense of generativity (of understanding the need to help the next generation) and a higher motivation coupled with a reduced feeling of stagnation. This could lessen the feelings of overwhelm midlifers sometimes express at the ‘culture of youth’ in western society – greater involvement with younger people and/or an ability to readily adapt to changing times may mean a crisis could be avoided.
Midlife should be a time when an individual is able to finally be themselves; a time when children have flown the nest, finances should be more stable and more free time is available. If you find yourself (or spot a loved one) looking back with regret try and stop yourself by instead looking forwards to all the things you could do now – take the trip of a lifetime perhaps, downsize to a smaller property (and free up some cash in the process), take up a new hobby, write that book, learn something new!
Perhaps it’s time to stop thinking of a ‘midlife crisis’ as a problem to be overcome or undergone but as a natural part of life a time to address the deepest part of oneself and set the course for the remainder of lifto see it as an opportunity for rebirth rather than stagnation.Concerned about yourself or a loved one?
Jo founded Success Stream. With over 30 years experience in hotels, leisure, technology and sales she has worked in many a stressful and demanding environment. She now focuses her time on helping others overcome stresses and hurdles in their lives and ensuring they reach their true potential.
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How Long Does Midlife Crisis Last?
We all can act a little crazy at times, but when acting crazy-like becomes a pattern it can be an indication of something bigger. If you've discovered that your partner's strange behavior is due to a midlife crisis, then you're soon going to be asking just how long does midlife crisis last?
One of the toughest parts of a midlife crisis for partners is the uncertainty. Not only is what the next erratic behavior will be unknown, but so is just how long the midlife crisis will last. For most partners it seems like it will never end. And unfortunately, the damage that occurs before it does can be tough to undo.
Ask any partner and they'll tell you the uncertainty is the hardest.
What You See During A Midlife Crisis
Another hard thing to watch, and put up with, during a midlife crisis is the child-like behavior. There are a number of situations where grown men can act like little boys and a midlife crisis is one of the biggest of them. Below is a social media post I wrote about men growing up that really fits this discussion of how long a midlife crisis can last.
A common characteristic of male midlife crisis is for a man to act like a selfish child. During this time men may abandon their partners and kids, neglect relationships and their jobs, or cheat, among many other dysfunctional behaviors. Rather than acting like the middle-aged men with responsibilities that they are, they revert back to being like teenagers without a care in the world.
What largely effects how long this midlife crisis lasts is how prepared a man is to handle the difficult challenge of assessing his life. There are many preexisting circumstances that make a man more susceptible to a midlife crisis, especially if they are things that are already causing problems. Difficulties in a marriage, work or financial stress, and health issues can all make a man open to a crisis.
There can also be triggering events that cause a man (or woman) to spiral downward resulting in a crisis. The death of a family member or friend, illness, or any traumatic event, can cause someone to lose sight of priorities and go into crisis mode.
Why A Midlife Crisis Can Last A Long Time
Sadly, far too many men are not prepared and ill-equipped for this kind of trial. Below is an example of such a guy.
Doug has "no self-esteem" according to his wife, Renee, and she says he's also "a very angry person." When Doug's father died, then his dog died, then their daughter left home for college, and then he lost his job of 23-years, all within a 3-month span of time, it was just too much for Doug. There's no question that this set of circumstances in such a short period of time would be a lot for anyone of us to get through without struggling more than a little bit. But for Doug, it was more than he could handle.
Overwhelmed and unwilling to seek professional help, Doug decided to try to runaway from his problems and pain, so he separated from Renee. Months later Renee learned that he had been cheating on her with a neighbor during this time as well. Since separating Doug has drifted aimlessly for a number of months living in different places and working sporadically. Meanwhile Renee has waited for him to come to his senses and move back home, while also struggling with just how long his midlife crisis is going to last.
Doug's father abused alcohol and was a "philanderer," and not having done any mental health counseling to ensure that he would not repeat the same behaviors, Doug has done just that - drank too much and cheated just like his father. It's important to note that this is Doug's story, not every man's story. Midlife crisis looks different for each person, but they all have similarities at the same time.
Like every partner, Renee wants to know how long this midlife crisis will last. It's really up to Doug. As long as he continues to avoid dealing with his issues and chooses to soothe his pain with alcohol and other women, it's not going to stop. Some men come to their senses and realize the bad choices they're making and get some help, others do not. One key to recovering and ensuring that similar behavior will not occur again is getting professional men's counseling to help to learn how to deal with challenges more effectively.
Unfortunately, many men are reactive when it comes to taking care of their health rather than being proactive. If Doug had gotten help for his self-esteem and anger management problems beforehand, and learned how to cope differently than his father, then he probably would have gotten through that difficult time in his life much better and without making such poor choices.
When asking "how long does midlife crisis last?" the answer ultimately depends on the man. How prepared - or ill-prepared - he is to deal with stressors that life brings on will play a big part, and the kind of coping skills he has developed are also really important. But the thing that is the biggest factor is what 'thing' it is that will cause him to wake up and own the mistakes he is making. And what that 'thing' is that's going to make him grow up and take responsibility for his life is also a big unknown.
Many women (and men) wonder how long does a midlife crisis last. Sadly, there is no one-size fits all answer. But the love, help, and support of those around him will play a big role in shortening it.
Did this article help? Do you have a better idea of what effects how long a midlife crisis lasts? Sign-up at the bottom of this page to receive notice of future or follow me on Facebook or Twitter where I share other helpful relationship and self-improvement advice like this several times a week.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published August 12, 2015. It has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
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Bridget Jones wrote: "Everyone knows that when you are over thirty, you are no longer as happy, cheerful and frivolous as you were at twenty-two. " In the language of psychologists, this is called a "midlife crisis."
Bridget Jones wrote: “Everyone knows that when you are over thirty you are no longer as happy, cheerful and frivolous as you were at twenty-two.” In the language of psychologists, this is called a "midlife crisis" - each of us goes through this stage.
What is a midlife crisis?
The symptoms are recognizable: in your thirties or forties, you begin to feel that the career you have chosen is absolutely not what you would like to do all your life. In your personal life, too, everything is not going smoothly: you begin to acutely experience age-related changes, you are afraid to stop being sexually attractive. You think that life needs to be rethought and changed. You doubt the correctness of your life path and relationships.
All these thoughts are a sign of an approaching midlife crisis. You will rightly object: well, who doesn’t feel like this at 30, at 40, at 50? Actually, value-personal crises are characteristic of any age limit. At 25, you realize that you can no longer have the same reckless fun as at 18, and at 40 you feel the fear that half of your life is behind you, you look back and convulsively go over in your head what exactly you didn’t have time for.
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Some psychologists believe that the midlife crisis itself occurs in the interval from 30 to 40 years, others distinguish a segment from 35 to 55 years. In women, the crisis lasts from 2 to 4 years, in men - up to 10 years. At the same time, such a depressive state turns out to be contagious in a way for a couple: if a person is faced with a midlife crisis, then his partner soon begins to think the same way.
How to recognize the coming crisis?
* You suddenly become acutely worried about your health for no apparent reason.
* Are you seriously thinking about how to prolong your youth: plastic surgery, operations.
* You constantly look back and think how good it was 10, 20 years ago.
* You find classmates and fellow students in social networks, look at their life and think that it is more successful than yours.
* You stop celebrating birthdays and begin to be ashamed of your age, keep silent or laugh it off instead of answering the question of how old you are.
What are the stages of a crisis?
Dr. Jim Conway described the stages of a midlife crisis based on six stages of grief acceptance: a person experiencing a crisis first experiences denial. He tries in every possible way to pretend that there is no crisis and age is not important, and he connects the growing disappointment from life, say, with the weather or a bad mood and problems at work.
Second stage - anger . A person is imbued with those thoughts that he stubbornly drove away from himself. He becomes an eater, aggressive, irritable, wants to quit everything, change and go to Goa as a downshifter.
Third stage - replay . In its manifestation, it resembles a teenage rebellion: a person begins to desperately strive to do everything that, as it seems to him, he did not have time, leaves his family, work, goes on a long trip, radically changes his appearance, lifestyle, hobbies, company of friends.
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Overacting is followed by depression , because at some point the rebel realizes that all these changes are external and they do not bring relief. After depression comes detachment - a person stops directing energy outward and tries to look inside himself, comprehend what is happening. After all these ordeals, finally comes self-acceptance - a period of developing new goals, guidelines and gaining inner harmony at a qualitatively new level.
What to do?
* First, accept the inevitable, namely your age. A crisis is always about self-rejection, a conflict between the way you saw your conditional 30-40-year-old self and the one you see in the mirror. But, firstly, it will not work to change the past, and secondly, even if life had the function of rewinding back and living differently, you would still make other mistakes and regret them already.
* Look at yourself, analyze, note the qualities that you like in yourself. Remember your accomplishments and praise yourself for them.
* Think about what else you would like to achieve, try, what you would like to learn, soberly assess your strengths and capabilities. If forces and opportunities allow - do not doubt yourself, act!
* Don't be afraid to seek help from loved ones: family and true friends will always be with you, regardless of your self-doubt.
The very word "crisis" sounds catastrophic. Psychologists propose to call the state differently - "transitional period". This is indeed closer to the truth: we need this period to review our goals and priorities. By the age of 30-40, we gained life experience, which, if we remember, helped us out more than once. Yes, the years go by, but we use them wisely, we learn our lessons and, like good wine, we only get better with time.
What is a midlife crisis and how to overcome it
Many Friends fans will remember the episode in which the main characters go through their 30th birthday. Each of the characters in the American sitcom showed the most expected reaction to a midlife crisis: Joe experienced a panic, Monica drowned her despair in wine, Phoebe summed up her years, and Rachel experienced depression, broke off relationships and began to make plans for the future. And, of course, Ross bought a red sports car. But does everyone experience a midlife crisis, and what is the average age? Is it worth repeating the usual scenarios and clichés? And, most importantly, how to deal with it?
- What is midlife crisis
- When the Crisis Comes
- Symptoms and signs
- Male midlife crisis
- Female midlife crisis
- How to Survive
- How to help those in crisis
The article was checked and commented by Elena Fiveyskaya, psychologist, GMS Clinic coach
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What is a midlife crisis
A midlife crisis is an emotional state that a person experiences at the age of 30-50 years, most often it is associated with a reassessment of life experience. It seems that many opportunities and dreams of youth are missed, while old age (or death) will come pretty soon. For different people, the crisis occurs at different ages, it depends on individual characteristics.
Crisis is often defined as a period of emotional upheaval and associated with a thirst for change. At the time of his experience, people try to fight the thoughts of old age. Many may forego responsibilities in favor of entertainment. That's why the term "midlife crisis" is often associated with buying a sports car or starting a new relationship. But middle age is also a time of reappraisal, debriefing, and self-determination, psychologists say.
Middle age is a time of reassessment, reflection and self-determination
Aging makes a person anxious and depressed. And a midlife crisis is a phase that helps you feel young again, because you don't want to put up with the fact that life is half over . However, the emotional upheavals that people experience at this age do not always lead to major lifestyle changes associated with the desire to stay forever young.
The term was originally applied only to men. He explained the fear of death that they experienced during this period. Today, the definition covers the physical, psychological, social problems faced by both men and women. However, many do not associate the midlife crisis with aging. So, in one of the surveys, men talked about problems at work or in the family, and women - with health and personal relationships.
Causes of midlife crisis
For many, middle age is a time when relationships and social roles change. Some people begin to care for aging parents, others feel lonely because adult children began to live separately . For others, this period becomes a time of regrets about missed opportunities .
Middle age can also be a time of deep reflection. People look back on the years they have lived and wonder what their life would have been like if they had taken a different path. Some begin to regret that they did not choose another career or did not accomplish what they once dreamed of. Others recall happier days of their youth.
Decline in happiness
One theory why some people experience a midlife crisis is that they experience a decline in happiness. Research shows that the feeling of happiness can be depicted as a U-shape. Where a gradual decline in happiness levels begins in late adolescence and continues until the age of 40. Happiness begins to grow again at 50 . This hypothesis was confirmed by the data of half a million Americans and Europeans. During the survey, people in their 60s reported that they had never been so happy in their lives. While forty-year-olds felt very miserable. However, the U-shaped curve is not an axiom at all.
When does a crisis occur?
According to research, not everyone experiences a midlife crisis. Some scholars believe that the concept of crisis is a social construct. It is the belief that some kind of crisis must occur at 40 that makes people think that they are experiencing disappointment and breakdown.
People feel lonely when their grown-up children start living separately
© Yan Krukov/Pexels
The US National Midlife Survey found that approximately 26% of participants experience a midlife crisis . At the same time, the majority of respondents reported that it occurred in the period before 40 or after 50 years. These data cast doubt on the axiom that such an emotional state is directly related to age, since the average is usually considered to be 45 years. In addition, the vast majority of respondents said that the crisis was caused by a serious event in life, and not by age. These include divorce, loss of a job, loss of a loved one, or relocation.
Today, the age range of the midlife crisis has expanded, as men and women under the age of 30 and over 50 can experience it. And its onset is often due to personal characteristics and significant events in life.
Symptoms of a midlife crisis
Psychotherapist Elena Elfimova in her book "Crisis of Personal Relationships" describes in detail the symptoms of a midlife crisis. Here's what you need to pay attention to:
- there was a need to improve physical fitness and appearance;
- there was a desire to actively move: running, cycling, dancing, extreme sports: racing, skydiving;
- made drastic changes in their diet or went on a diet, started taking vitamins or dietary supplements;
- buy new clothes and spend more time looking;
- change your hairstyle, color your hair due to natural changes in color, thickness and quantity;
- dramatically change your social circle, which is replenished by younger people;
- feel dissatisfaction with your own achievements;
- compare yourself with other people of your age who have achieved more;
- what used to bring pleasure is boring; there was a desire to quit a successful career;
- experience irritability, sudden fits of anger;
- you get tired faster, there are problems with memory, new diseases, the consequences of bad habits have accumulated;
- the need for sleep has changed: you want to sleep more or, conversely, less;
- became more prone to stress;
- like listening to other music, suddenly want to learn how to play a musical instrument;
- have a sudden interest in painting or writing;
- awakened interest in religion or philosophy;
- think about death more often, talk about its nature;
- trying to give new life to things that you bought 20 years ago;
- often remember your childhood;
- think about the future.
Midlife crisis in men
Men most often associate the crisis with life values and self-discovery. At the same time, the search can imply both a change in profession, changes in family life, and cardinal changes in lifestyle. At this point, men often look back on their past years, question their achievements and begin to look for themselves in something else.
Men most often associate the crisis with life values and the search for oneself
© Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels
Signs of aging also play an important role: as a rule, health and physical abilities begin to deteriorate in middle age. Thoughts that you can be happier if you change something can cause men to have an emotional crisis and an acute desire for speedy change.
A midlife crisis usually involves changing lives in a hurry, says Calvin Colarusso, MD, professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego . As an example, he cites the case of his patient who wrote a note to his wife, withdrew money from a bank account and moved to another city without warning. But, according to Colarusso, this type of crisis is rare, more often men go through it less impulsively.
Signs of a midlife crisis in men:
- You are over 40 years old. Colarusso most often sees men struggle with a midlife crisis in their 40s and 50s.
- You are concerned about the main areas of your life. This may include dissatisfaction with career, marriage, health, as well as a desire to change them for the better.
- You feel that there is little time to choose a new direction.
According to a psychologist, many men are in dire need of change when:
- appearance and physical form change;
- grandchildren appear;
- parents or friends die.
Ph.D. and psychologist from Boston, Lynn Margolis, believes that at this stage, men can experience "teenage rebellion." “A sure sign of a midlife crisis is that you feel trapped and strongly tempted to change your life,” she says. Attempts may include:
- addiction to alcohol;
- novel on the side;
- leaving the family, breaking up a long-term relationship;
- desire to add thrills.
Midlife crisis can lead to both growth and destruction of personality. If you look for the causes of your unhappiness, and then make thoughtful decisions to eliminate them, this is growth, says the psychologist. And making impulsive decisions, such as walking away from a familiar life, having a relationship with a younger partner that ends quickly, or buying a car that is too expensive, leads to destruction.
A sure sign of a midlife crisis: you feel trapped and strongly tempted to make a radical change in your life
The psychologist encourages you to remember that feelings and impulsive impulses are not commands to act. After all, the desire to run away from home, work or family does not mean that it really needs to be done. These feelings may indicate problems that need to be addressed. In addition, over time, they may disappear altogether. Men make many successful changes in their 40s and older: get an education, travel, start their own business. It is important to make sure that the new goals are practical and accessible.
Midlife crisis in women
Contrary to popular belief, the crisis does not affect only men. Recent studies have shown that a similar emotional state is also characteristic of women from 40 to 65 years old . During this period, they face not only physiological changes, but also problems at work, in family relationships, and in achieving financial and personal goals. The stress can be so intense that women may experience sleep disturbances and health problems.
To avoid backlash, a midlife crisis is best viewed as an opportunity to re-evaluate your life, a chance to pause and spend time and energy figuring out what's important to you, says Dr. Susan Albers, PhD in Psychology.
Hormonal changes are the main difference in these situations, notes the psychologist. As women enter menopause, estrogen and progesterone levels decrease and cause physiological changes, including disturbances in sleep, mood, and sex drive . During perimenopause and menopause, hormone imbalances can also cause memory loss, anxiety, weight gain, and decreased interest in things you used to enjoy, according to Mayo Clinic doctors .
Signs and symptoms of a midlife crisis in women:
- depression and anxiety;
- lack of motivation or desire to devote time to certain activities;
- dissatisfaction with career and other life choices.
Emerging experiences can direct women's attention inward. And since they are more likely to care about the feelings and needs of others, such self-reflection can provoke an emotional crisis. In the role of mother, women may be more visible in society or have a strong bond with their children, psychologists say. But one day the children grow up and stop needing them. And when women do not devote all their attention to the family, they have time to think about their experiences.
Stress can be so intense that women may experience sleep disturbances and health problems
How to Survive a Midlife Crisis
1.Embrace the Change
Not only gray hair and wrinkles show age, but also fatigue. Therefore, the question of how to feel younger is increasingly being asked by psychologists and psychotherapists. Try not to attribute changes in appearance to age. They are also caused by unfavorable ecology, hard work and stress.
Maintain mental activity: enthusiasm and a positive inner attitude are good for appearance.
2. Take care of yourself
Look for ways to reduce stress, whether it's asking loved ones to share your experience or using stress management techniques such as meditation or mindful breathing. Take care of yourself, eat a healthy diet and get enough sleep.
3. Take care of your health
Talk to your doctor or gynecologist to help you understand what is normal in your condition and what is depression or anxiety. Consulting a therapist can also help you cope with negative emotions.
4. Train your brain
Age also manifests itself in increased fatigue and forgetfulness. Over time, the brain loses the ability to adapt to new situations. Try to diversify the usual course of life: change the route to work, give up the car, walk more often and arrange interesting events with family and friends. Stop using the calculator and start training your brain with mental counting. You can also give up diaries and entries in your mobile phone: try to remember phone numbers, memorable dates and a to-do list.
5. Get new emotions
Travel is one of the most common tips from psychologists. Sometimes a week spent in an unknown city or country can give more impressions than a whole year of measured life.
Look for ways to reduce stress
© Marcus Aurelius/Pexels
But going to the ends of the earth in search of new experiences is not an option for everyone, given the current pandemic. Previously unknown tastes and smells will help to get emotions and create neural connections. Try new dishes or buy an unusual perfume. In addition, you can diversify your leisure time with new hobbies.
6. Be grateful
Take time to be grateful for the parts of your life that make you happy, psychologists advise. Try keeping a journal and write down what you are grateful for. Go back to your notes to see what you can change in your life.
7. Discuss your emotional state
Find accomplices. It is important to know that you are not the only one experiencing a crisis. Talking to others about how you feel is supportive. Those who have already gone through this state can share useful ideas and tips. Also, before making important decisions, discuss them with someone you trust. A friend or psychologist may have a different opinion about the correctness of your choice.
8. Conduct self-examination
Try to understand what is important to you, what you spend time and energy on. Find out what takes energy instead of filling it. This process may involve restructuring relationships, getting rid of toxic people, finding new friends or hobbies. Let go of guilt and don't get discouraged by introspection. Realize that this is a necessity and allow yourself to explore the important questions of life.
When to ask for help
Sometimes going through a midlife crisis doesn't require professional help. Perhaps, in order to feel that life has been filled with meaning, a new hobby is enough. But this emotional state can affect well-being. A midlife crisis should be treated like any other emotional crisis. If you are experiencing unpleasant symptoms that worsen your condition, it is best to seek help from professionals.
Psychological counseling will help to cope with negative emotions
Here are a few times when you should consult your doctor or see a psychologist:
- emotional stress interferes with sleep or affects appetite;
- cannot concentrate on work;
- stress or mood affects relationships with loved ones;
- lost interest in entertainment and hobbies;
- are thinking about major life changes: ending a long-term relationship, changing careers, or moving. At the same time, the desire to make changes is born from the internal upheavals associated with age.
How to help those who are in crisis
Experiences during this period can be quite strong. So much so that it becomes difficult to endure them not only for a person, but also for his family, friends, colleagues. At this moment, people begin to splash out their emotions and aggression, or, conversely, to withdraw into themselves.
If you suspect a friend or family member is having a midlife crisis, you can help them.
- Become a good listener for your loved ones, let the person talk about their experiences. Try to listen without judgment and refrain from giving advice. Let a friend share how they feel and let them know that you are there.
- Express your concern, concern more often. At the same time, it is better to avoid exclamations from the series: “It seems that you are having a midlife crisis ?!” Instead, try asking probing questions like, “You haven't looked like yourself lately. Are you all right?"
- If necessary, talk to your loved one about the importance of getting professional help. Suggest talking to a psychologist or doctor. Keep in mind that the changes you see in a person may indicate health problems. For example, a thyroid disorder often causes mood swings. The specialist will help to rule out medical problems and determine if a psychologist is needed.
- When someone close to you refuses to seek help from a specialist, you can consult a psychologist yourself. A therapist can help you develop a plan to support the other person and set healthy mental boundaries.
- Get help right away if you notice that a loved one could harm themselves or others. If necessary, take him to the emergency room for examination. If a person refuses to go to the hospital, call an ambulance and do not leave him unattended.
Elena Fiveyskaya, psychologist, GMS Clinic coach
What is the difference between midlife crisis in women and men?
Any age crisis is a turning point, a transitional moment that has its own stages and patterns of development. In this midlife crisis in men and women is the same.
Firstly, both of them will definitely have it: it will affect almost everyone. Secondly, it is directly related to its name - namely, it comes in the middle of life (median). This means that both a man and a woman will begin to compare their expectations from life with what has been achieved, can still be achieved, and with what has been lost forever.
But there are differences. The first is the age difference. If we do not take into account the tails of the distribution (for example, genes that allow a woman under 40 to look 20), then a woman begins to observe the first heralds of age-related changes by the age of 30.
If a woman has not yet given birth, then thoughts about the mythical biological clock sometimes fly into her head, becoming more insistent. Men have fewer such restrictions, at 30 they, for the most part, firmly believe that everything is still ahead.
The second difference is the goal that a woman and a man want to achieve. There is an opinion that it is more important for a woman to realize herself in a family, and for a man - in a career. But, in my opinion, this stereotype is outdated, and many men today dream of a child, and women put their career first.
The third factor involved in the reassessment of one's abilities in middle age is related to the sexual sphere. These are menopause in women and erection problems in men. And here again we can note the difference in age limits (as well as with procreation).
But the main difference that I want to point out as a psychologist is what avoidance strategies (instead of accepting current changes) are used by men and women in the midst of a midlife crisis.
In men, trying to regain youth by committing reckless acts is the most common behavior. As they say, gray hair in the head is a demon in the ribs. They are trying to emotionally return to the pre-crisis state.
A woman, on the other hand, makes attempts to do it bodily: she decides on braces, plastic surgeries, rejuvenation procedures - all this is a multi-million dollar business that is based on the midlife crisis of the beautiful half of humanity.
Once again, I want to emphasize that the differences between men and women are changing these days. A woman can run to buy a new Porsche, a yacht, or get a lover younger than herself, just as a man can maniacally improve his appearance.
Women do not lose the ability to receive the same vivid emotions as in their youth. In men, the emotional sphere fades, everything becomes boring, and life becomes like a “Groundhog Day”. Therefore, often men look for emotions in a new marriage, re-participate in the birth of children, experiencing this process in a different way, more consciously, as it seems to them.
A woman is more masochistic by nature, it is easier for her to devote herself to something else: a man, a child, projects. Because of her nature and ability to be a mother. Without the masochistic part, the stage of childbirth and postpartum care for the baby seems rather difficult. Therefore, this is inherent in a woman.
How long can a midlife crisis last?
Long enough if the person does not advance to the next level. In especially severe cases, such a crisis can break a person.
Perhaps you have come across or even among relatives there are elderly people who are stuck in the past, have lost the meaning of life and do not expect anything more from this world. Usually they say about them: “She was never able to start a family, he never recovered from losing his job, etc.” Missed opportunities remained in the past, and the person did not set new goals for himself.
But there are also opposite cases, when a crisis pushes a person to his destiny, to what he always wanted to do, but for some reason did not do it.
Is there a complex treatment, crisis therapy?
The main therapy is a visit to a psychologist. A crisis is not a disease, but a transition from one phase of development to the next. If in adulthood there are difficulties in accepting some new circumstances, this is work with the psyche and defenses. A psychologist will help you understand what is stopping you and how to deal with it. In some cases, you will have to burn yourself out, in others - to change the strategy, and thirdly - to set new goals.
How to help yourself with signs of a crisis?
It is extremely difficult to get out of the crisis on your own. I already wrote about the defenses of the psyche, which will not allow us to move on if we have not closed some specific goals, desires, our “wants”. There will be attempts again and again to get what you want, even if it is impossible. It also depends on the actual achievements of a person in comparison with his expectations. In this case, perfectionists will have a particularly hard time.
The only thing I would like to advise is not to compare yourself with others, everyone has been given a different amount of resources (both external and internal). So, even a successful businessman will be a loser compared to a person on the first line of Forbes. Another recommendation is to explore new areas, opportunities, everything new as much as possible, because the old is either unattainable, or has already been achieved and interest is lost.
How can loved ones help those who are in crisis?
Everything is very individual and depends not only on the personality of loved ones and the one who is going through a crisis, but also on the specifics of the relationships that have developed between them. If even before the crisis the relationship was not trusting, and the personality was closed and secretive, then attempts to abruptly change course can unsettle even more.
It is important to pay attention to the reduction of possible criticism, to shift the focus to achievements. Notice the destructive thoughts of your loved one and challenge them. Talk if possible. Engage in new events, activities.
Are there any consequences of the crisis? Which?
Of the negative ones - the destruction of the personality (family, career), which may be accompanied by alcoholism, drug addiction, loss of self-confidence or severe mental illness. Of the positive ones - new opportunities, a surge of energy for their implementation, another opportunity to turn your life in the right direction.