Symptoms of mental health crisis

Know the Warning Signs | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness

Trying to tell the difference between what expected behaviors are and what might be the signs of a mental illness isn't always easy. There's no easy test that can let someone know if there is mental illness or if actions and thoughts might be typical behaviors of a person or the result of a physical illness.

Each illness has its own symptoms, but common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents can include the following:

  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Feeling excessively sad or low
  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
  • Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
  • Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
  • Avoiding friends and social activities
  • Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
  • Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
  • Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don't exist in objective reality)
  • Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality (”lack of insight” or anosognosia)
  • Overuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
  • Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
  • Thinking about suicide
  • Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
  • An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance

Mental health conditions can also begin to develop in young children. Because they’re still learning how to identify and talk about thoughts and emotions, their most obvious symptoms are behavioral. Symptoms in children may include the following:

  • Changes in school performance
  • Excessive worry or anxiety, for instance fighting to avoid bed or school
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Frequent nightmares
  • Frequent disobedience or aggression
  • Frequent temper tantrums

Where to Get Help

Don’t be afraid to reach out if you or someone you know needs help. Learning all you can about mental health is an important first step.

Reach out to your health insurance, primary care doctor or state/county mental health authority for more resources.

Contact the NAMI HelpLine to find out what services and supports are available in your community. 

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

Receiving a Diagnosis

Knowing warning signs can help let you know if you need to speak to a professional. For many people, getting an accurate diagnosis is the first step in a treatment plan.

Unlike diabetes or cancer, there is no medical test that can accurately diagnose mental illness. A mental health professional will use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association, to assess symptoms and make a diagnosis. The manual lists criteria including feelings and behaviors and time limits in order to be officially classified as a mental health condition.

After diagnosis, a health care provider can help develop a treatment plan that could include medication, therapy or other lifestyle changes.

Finding Treatment

Getting a diagnosis is just the first step; knowing your own preferences and goals is also important. Treatments for mental illness vary by diagnosis and by person. There’s no “one size fits all” treatment. Treatment options can include medication, counseling (therapy), social support and education.

Warning Signs of a Mental Health Crisis and Strategies for De-escalation

Between 32 and 50 percent of people will suffer from a mental health disorder at some point in their lifetime. Common stressors can end up triggering mental health problems in children and adults. If a mental health crisis occurs, there are a few things loved ones can do to help. 

What is a Mental Health Crisis?

A mental health crisis is a situation where someone’s behavior poses a risk to themselves or someone else. This term may also refer to times when the person’s behavior prevents them from being a functioning member of the community. They may also be unable to properly care for themselves.

There are many conditions and situations that can lead to mental health crisis symptoms. For example, the individual may suffer from trauma, suicidal thoughts, or depression. They may also be dealing with self-harm, alcohol abuse, eating disorders, or substance abuse.

Signs of a Mental Health Crisis

If you think your loved one is having mental health problems, there are a few mental health crisis symptoms you should watch out for. When in doubt, you should always reach out to a mental health professional for more help. The following symptoms are signs someone may be dealing with a mental health crisis. 

  • Isolation from loved ones
  • Sudden mood swings or changes in energy levels
  • Inability to take care of daily tasks and grooming activities
  • Agitation and violent behavior
  • Destruction of property and violent threats
  • Self-harm behaviors or abusive behaviors towards self and other people
  • Pacing or problems sitting still
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis and a sense of being out of touch with reality
  • Hearing voices and seeing things that aren’t there

What to Do When There is a Mental Health Crisis

If your loved one is going through a mental health crisis, there are a few things you can do to de-escalate the situation.

Stay Calm

The most important thing is to always stay calm. You should express support and concern without overreacting. Otherwise, you can end up making a difficult situation worse.


Sometimes, the best way to help someone who is going through a difficult time is by listening to them. Ask them what you can do to help, and be patient.

Avoid Overstimulation

During a mental health crisis, you want to avoid overstimulating the person in any way. Don’t touch them unless you have permission, don’t make continuous eye contact, and move slowly. You should give them plenty of space, so they don’t feel like they are trapped.

Give Them Options

Instead of telling the individual what to do, provide them with options. This gives them a sense of control. If you need to take action, announce what you are doing before you do it.

Don’t Argue

If you want to de-escalate the situation, don’t try to argue with the person. You should also avoid judgmental comments. Emotions and feelings are often not logical, so don’t try to reason with them. 

Call ‘988’ Mental Health Crisis Hotline for Help

During a mental health crisis, dial 988 on your phone, and you can instantly talk to a mental health professional. This mental health crisis hotline provides 24/7 support for people who are experiencing emotional distress or a suicidal crisis.

Additional Mental Health Support

The Georgetown Behavioral Health Institute offers a range of programs to help people who are struggling with mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse problems, and more. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, the Georgetown Behavioral Health Institute can help. To learn more about our programs and get support, contact us today.

What is a midlife crisis and how to overcome it

Many fans of the TV series "Friends" remember the series in which the main characters are experiencing a 30-year milestone. 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
  • Causes
  • When the Crisis Comes
  • Symptoms and signs
  • Male midlife crisis
  • Women's 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, 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

© Shutterstock

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 [1]. 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 [2].

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 [3]. 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?

Research shows that 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 [4]. 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 move actively: running, cycling, dancing, going in for extreme sports: racing, skydiving;
  • made drastic changes in the diet or went on a diet, started taking vitamins or dietary supplements;
  • buy new clothes and spend more time on appearance;
  • change your hairstyle, color your hair due to natural changes in color, thickness and quantity;
  • dramatically change the circle of friends, which is replenished by people of a younger age;
  • feel dissatisfied with your own achievements;
  • compare yourself with other people of your age who have achieved more;
  • what used to bring pleasure, got bored; 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 stressed;
  • like listening to other music, suddenly want to learn how to play a musical instrument;
  • have a sudden interest in painting or writing;
  • Interest awakened 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 the search for oneself. 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 [5]. 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:

  1. You are over 40 years old. Colarusso most often sees men struggle with a midlife crisis in their 40s and 50s.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

© Shutterstock

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 affects not only men. Recent studies have shown that a similar emotional state is also characteristic of women from 40 to 65 years old [6]. 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[7][8].

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 [9]. 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 [10].

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

© Cottonbro/Pexels

How to Survive a Midlife Crisis


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. Do a self-evaluation

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

© Shutterstock

Here are a few times when you should consult a doctor or see a psychologist:

  • emotional stress interferes with sleep or affects appetite;
  • unable to 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 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.

Psychologist's commentary

Elena Fiveyskaya, psychologist, GMS Clinic coach

What is the difference between a 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.

Tags: psychology

Midlife crisis in women. What is Midlife Crisis in Women?

The information in this section should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. In case of pain or other exacerbation of the disease, only the attending physician should prescribe diagnostic tests. For diagnosis and proper treatment, you should contact your doctor.

The midlife crisis in women is a transitional period of mental development, manifested by a reassessment of social roles, achievements, and a rethinking of family relationships. Occurs between 30 and 50 years, lasts from 6 months to 2-3 years. The main symptoms: dissatisfaction with the current situation (work, lifestyle, spouse, children), desire for change, emotional instability, irritability, the emergence of new hobbies. The psychologist deals with the diagnosis of the crisis, the study is carried out by the method of conversation. For easier and faster survival of the crisis, it is recommended to seek advice from a specialist.

    • Causes of midlife crisis in women
    • Pathogenesis
    • Symptoms of a midlife crisis in women
    • Complications
    • Diagnostics
    • Recommendations for midlife crisis in women
    • Prognosis and prevention
    • Prices for treatment


    In 1965, the Canadian psychoanalyst E. Jacques published an article in which he first used the term "midlife crisis" to refer to a life period of awareness of the limitations of human capabilities and mortality. The crisis in women passes at an earlier age than in men - from 30 to 50 years. In origin and manifestations, for the majority, it is feminine - associated with the loss of youth, sensual dissatisfaction. In women with a career and business orientation, high purposefulness, confidence, the crisis is similar to that of men (masculine). The experience of the crisis is more pronounced among the representatives of the middle class, who have the opportunity to change attitudes and activities.

    midlife crisis in women

    Causes of midlife crisis in women

    Women's crisis is less pronounced than men's, sometimes it goes almost unnoticed. The reasons for the rapid and protracted course are psychological, biological and social in nature. The more areas for self-realization a woman singles out for herself, the more demanding she is about her own achievements, the more acutely the period of change is experienced. Factors exacerbating the manifestations of the crisis include:

    • Changes in appearance. In the modern world, the success and relevance of a woman is assessed through external attractiveness, youth, sexuality. Age-related changes - deterioration in posture, skin and hair condition, weight gain - become sources of anxiety, insecurity, low self-esteem.
    • Hormonal shifts. The onset of menopause is accompanied by emotional instability, mood swings, symptoms of malaise. All these manifestations reinforce the negative aspects of the crisis.
    • Family relations. The roles of wife and mother are the most important for women. In a crisis, satisfaction with marital and child-parent relationships is assessed. Unmarried and childless women are more prone to a protracted, difficult transition period.
    • Social status. Provoking factors of negative experiences are lack of success in a career, dislike for the profession, low income. Women who are worried about their social status change their place of work, field of activity.
    • Social stereotypes. The severity of the crisis depends on the conformity with the ideas of social groups about the success and well-being of women. In a secular society, high demands are placed on appearance and career success. Among religious communities, the emphasis is on the stability of marital relations (without regard to quality), having many children, and thriftiness.
    • Psychological qualities. Women who are self-critical and dependent on the assessment of others are more susceptible to acute crisis experience. Overcoming emotional discomfort is facilitated by the development of self-love, acceptance of one's weaknesses.


    The psychological basis of the midlife crisis is described in detail by E. Erickson. The state is characterized by the need for development - mastering new skills, mastering relationships and activities that are qualitatively different from the previous ones. Unlike the crisis in a child, where the source of the new is an adult, the crisis in women is the search for their own resources, the study of needs, the need to choose between the stagnation of the Self (Ego) and generativity. This term refers to the ability to show concern for the well-being of others, in particular the future generation. The neoplasm of the crisis is a "healthy sense of productivity" - the desire to support, provide materially and spiritually less experienced people. At the same time, personal life becomes more creative and productive. If a choice is made in favor of stagnation, the manifestation of care does not expand, it concentrates on personal interests and experiences, which leads to boredom, melancholy, and dissatisfaction.

    Symptoms of a midlife crisis in women

    The crisis is manifested by symptoms of depression, chronic fatigue, nervous tension. A specific sign is dissatisfaction with the current life situation, a desire for change. Emotional experiences are associated with poor health, age-related changes in appearance, problems in interpersonal relationships. After 30 years, ideas arise about the irretrievable loss of youth and beauty: wrinkles, pigmentation, darkening near the eyes appear, the skin becomes dry and less elastic, body weight often increases, gait loses lightness. Women who highly value external beauty and are accustomed to the admiration of others have a harder time aging. The desire to prolong youth is manifested by a passion for diets, sports, cosmetic and surgical plastic procedures.

    Former relationships become a source of irritation and discontent. Love for her husband fades into the background, dissatisfaction with his actions, insufficient attention, and lack of emotional intimacy increases. Mentally, the woman returns to an earlier period, when the relationship with her husband was romantic, sensual, and brought joy. Nostalgia only increases despair and dissatisfaction. Trying to change the situation, a woman often starts heart-to-heart conversations that end in reproaches, accusations, resentment and tears. Sometimes a decision is made to divorce, there are love affairs with other partners. For unmarried women, the absence of a man or a formal relationship with him is a source of anxiety, as a recognition of the seriousness of intentions.

    In relations with children, conflicts on the basis of poor academic grades, disobedience, and manifestations of independence become more frequent. Often a woman's midlife crisis coincides with her child's teenage crisis. Through increasing demands, strengthening strictness, discipline, the mother tries to achieve the social success of her son or daughter and thereby prove her own parental viability. Women who do not have children tend to evaluate childlessness as a disadvantage, inferiority, therefore they make attempts to become pregnant and give birth to a baby. Against the background of this need, rash marriages are concluded, large financial resources are spent on medical examinations, including the use of reproductive technologies.

    Women who took care of the family and did not pay due attention to their careers begin to work hard, improve their qualifications or receive education, for which there was not enough time in their youth. Those who have achieved certain heights in the professional field suddenly leave their position, go into creativity, into organizations that allow them to show spiritual qualities - kindness, compassion, care. Often, in order to cope with emotional instability, a feeling of emptiness, women resort to religion, esoteric teachings, and unusual creative hobbies.


    A protracted crisis in women is complicated by depression. The absence of positive changes provokes a feeling of longing, hopelessness, meaninglessness of life. Sleep is disturbed (insomnia, excessive drowsiness), appetite, anxiety and irritability increase, a stable feeling of guilt and worthlessness is formed. A woman loses interest in activities that used to bring pleasure, including hobbies and sex. Menopausal symptoms are worse tolerated, headaches, digestive problems, sweating, shortness of breath are observed. In severe cases, there are thoughts of suicide, suicidal attempts are made.


    In most cases, the crisis passes without the participation of doctors and psychologists, the need for qualified assistance appears with the development of complications - depression, a persistent deterioration in well-being. To identify a crisis state, the method of clinical conversation is used. In a conversation with a psychologist, women note the instability of emotions, irritability, a sense of the meaninglessness of ongoing events, dissatisfaction with marriage, family relationships, and the content of professional activity. With complaints characteristic of depression and other neurotic disorders, a comprehensive study of the emotional and personal sphere is carried out using questionnaires and projective tests (Standardized multifactorial method for studying the personality of L. N. Sobchik, drawing of a person, “House-tree-man”, thematic apperceptive test , the Beck depression scale, etc.).

    Advice for midlife crisis in women

    When a crisis occurs, it is important not to panic, not to be afraid of change. Changes during this period are natural and inevitable, their adoption allows you to live the second half of your life more meaningfully and effectively. Self-help should be focused on working with emotions, thoughts and actions. The recommendations of psychologists are as follows:

    • Health care. Positive attention to changes in your body allows you to save strength and energy longer. Women need to accept the fact that the aging process is natural, to shift the focus of efforts from external beauty to maintaining health. Attractiveness should be understood through harmony in appearance, emotions and actions.
    • Manifestation of love and care. During a crisis, you should not focus on your own experiences, you need to maintain active and open relationships with family members, friends, and colleagues. With an increase in irritation, discontent, resentment, it is worthwhile to understand that the reason lies in internal personal changes, to find a way to develop and show love.
    • Conscious experience. One should not deny the existence of a crisis and the unpleasant emotions, actions, thoughts caused by it. In order to survive this state as quickly as possible, it is recommended to objectify the negative - to cry, write about your experiences, draw them, sort out destructive ideas and desires (to quit, get divorced, leave home), evaluate their consequences. At the second stage, you need to focus on the positive aspects - existing skills, strong personal qualities, achieved goals. Planning for the future is an effective development tool.
    • Healthy egocentrism. There are many techniques for knowing yourself. The crisis is the time for new explorations of personal desires, aspirations, beauty, skills. It is necessary to shift attention from the negative moments of life to the positive ones - to do what brings pleasure, joy, pleasant excitement, a sense of satisfaction and happiness (dancing, hiking in nature, drawing, cooking, meeting friends).

    Prognosis and prevention

    The midlife crisis is experienced by most women. The prognosis is often favorable - the transitional stage ends with the formation of a new attitude towards others and oneself, the development of a high level of care, acceptance, love. In the absence of understanding of the crisis period, isolation, obsession with destructive experiences, the process is delayed, provokes the formation of depression, and deterioration in health. In order to productively resolve conflicts, you need to understand the temporality and naturalness of the ongoing changes, if necessary, seek professional help from psychologists and psychotherapists.

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