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Why midlife crisis occurs frequently in men, women

Why midlife crisis occurs frequently in men, women

Midlife crisis proves that nothing is permanent in life. This state of mind should be a prompt for people to realise that you only live once, so enjoy each moment. If people can adopt this mentality, then the percentage of people who fall into a midlife crisis in their 40s and 50s would get fewer.

Have you ever heard someone say: “I am going through a midlife crisis?” Well, not everyone has a proper understanding of what this means or how deep it can be.

couple battling midlife crisis

What is a midlife crisis?

A midlife crisis is weeks, months, or years when an individual start to feel like he or she has hit a wall and is no longer happy with his or her life. It happens to individuals in the middle age bracket around 40-60 years old, and it is usually characterised by anxiety and emotional turmoil.

According to Forbes Health, the criteria for midlife crises are not well-defined and may differ from person to person, but according to experts, they are often marked by strong feelings, unhealthy coping skills and behaviour changes. This means that the way one person would experience a midlife crisis is different from the way another person will experience theirs.

Sometimes, this happens because as people get older, they think that their best years are behind them, especially when they are going through a lot of difficulties in their mid-40s upward. The way an individual used to feel and act when he or she was in their 20s and 30s is very different from the way such a person will start to feel as he or she clocks 40, 50 years and so on. As these existential concerns arise, some people turn to soul searching.

The causes of most midlife crises are unclear, but several factors may contribute. They include:

  • Ageing
  • Sudden lack of purpose in life
  • Menopause 
  • Financial difficulty 
  • Terrible heartbreak
  • The death of a spouse or partner can cause a midlife crisis.
  • The death of a child or parent

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Midlife crisis age

Many people experience their first midlife crisis in their 40s. Midlife crisis age, which occurs between the ages of 40 to 60, is that stage of life where most people feel inner turmoil about their identity, morality and life choices, amongst others. It is the uncertainty of things that makes it all look bleak for a lot of people.

The term midlife crisis was coined by psychoanalyst Elliot Jaques in 1965. He noted that people that go through a midlife crisis experience psychological crisis, which stems from their lack of accomplishments, ageing and mortality. This goes on to produce emotions such as:

  • Depression 
  • Fear
  • Remorse
  • Desire to make drastic changes in their lives.
  • Self-doubt
  • Dissatisfaction with relationships, career, or life in general. 

Nowadays, midlife crisis is associated with the stereotype of middle-aged men buying fancy cars or getting married to younger ladies so they regain their sense of youth. Over the years, it has been shown that for some people, a decline in life satisfaction comes as they approach their 40s. But there are also people whose life satisfaction seems to rise at this same age.

Hence, midlife crisis is not a term some people would use to describe their midlife experience.

a middle-aged women thinking about her life

Signs of midlife crisis in a man

Midlife crisis is not a clinically recognised mental health issue, so, there are very few specific symptoms that one can use to identify people who are experiencing this. Even though most people picture signs of midlife in a man as when he buys a Ferrari or leaves his older wife for a much younger one, this is not always applicable to everyone.

A man can be in his 40s or 50s and have issues in his relationships. If he decides to leave that relationship, it does not mean that he is experiencing a midlife crisis. Because feelings such as depression, anxiety and lack of interest are often associated with a midlife crisis, it can be deduced that some of the signs of a midlife crisis in a man are:

Constantly saying life is boring

In marriage, once your partner starts saying this, he might be headed for a midlife crisis. According to LifeMatters, an online library that educates people about their health and well-being, it says: “We (men) work harder or distract ourselves only to postpone the inevitable, for months or, sometimes, years.”

So, before most people wake up to their reality, the time has gone and it is at this point they tend to break down and revolt.

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When a man starts cheating in midlife, one of the many reasons is that he is experiencing a midlife crisis. The desire for something new and fresh, and the hunger to feel young again are all signs of his current state of mind.

Losing interest

When your partner begins to lose interest in his job or goes ahead to get the dream car he has always wanted without considering the financial cost, he might be going through a phase of life called a midlife crisis. 

Other signs of midlife crisis in men include:

  • Lack of interest in having sex with you.
  • Makes a sudden change in his appearance and style.
  • Starts drinking or abusing other substances.
  • Displaying signs of anxiety, mood swing, depression, etc. 

a middle-aged man dealing with issues

Signs of midlife crisis in a woman

Signs of a midlife crisis in a woman are slightly different from the signs a man would experience. By the time a woman is entering her 40s, she has likely given birth, changed careers, experienced different relationships and her choices begin to play out before her eyes.

To help your sister, mother, female friend or aunt who is in mid-age, here are signs of a midlife crisis in a woman:

Weight loss/gain

When your loved one, particularly a woman, suddenly starts adding or losing weight or showing any out-of-character trait regarding their look, then they might be experiencing a midlife crisis. 

Loss of interest

When a woman loses interest in matters that she used to love and appreciate before, then she might be experiencing an emotional crisis. Because at this stage, it seems nothing is worth it or as much fun as it used to be. 

Experience physical pain

The biblical saying that “as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he” comes into play here. As a woman begins to feel pain and regret or a lack of interest in talking, it sometimes plays out into physical pain such as constant headaches and internal pain. These pains, at times, will not respond to medical treatment. Right here, you need psychological treatment.

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Other signs of a midlife crisis in a woman include:

  • Making rash decisions
  • Thinking long and hard
  • Saying NO to opportunities that would benefit her and/or the family
  • Lack of sleep, etc.

a sad woman
How to deal with a midlife crisis

A midlife crisis is an emotional state that affects all ages, but it is more common for individuals in the middle age bracket. This is the period when people are faced with making decisions about their careers, retirement, relationships and other life events.

Midlife crises are not uncommon in people who have reached their 50s or 60s. They can also happen earlier in life if you are going through a difficult time in your personal life (e.g., divorce) or when there is an important event that affects your self-esteem (e.g., losing a job).

If you are experiencing symptoms of a midlife crisis, it is important to seek professional help. Professional help can include:

  • Therapy
  • Counselling 
  • Medication

It is also possible that your stress level has become unmanageable and that this may lead to other health problems. Your doctor may recommend antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications, for example, if anxiety is contributing to your midlife crisis symptoms. It is not the same as feeling old or being bitter about your age; other issues can cause these symptoms and it is best to get treatment for them rather than just dealing with them on your own.

You can also deal with a midlife crisis by:

  • Indulging in more physical activities.
  • Spend time more with loved ones. People who appreciate who you are.
  • Facing your fears, and accepting your mistakes. This enables you to erase any form of regret in your past.
  • Developing health habits like sleeping properly, exercising, eating well, etc.
  • Meditation 
  • Constant gratitude to yourself and your world.

a happy middle-aged man jugging
There are many ways to deal with a midlife crisis. The main point is to remember you were not always in that phase, so it will pass as long as you take the right steps. You are more than capable to handle every situation you find yourself in. Think positively all the time, and enjoy every moment in life.

Do you know anyone who is experiencing a midlife crisis? Will you help the person with the tips provided in this article?

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Jane writes inspiring, entertaining and exciting content.

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