As you get older, you may find yourself looking back on your younger years with a mixture of fondness, relief, and wistfulness or regret.
Many people fear reaching middle age, so you’re not alone in your anxiety. You may believe that your “best years” are behind you, leaving you with nothing but long, boring days, a meaningless existence, and the gradual deterioration of your body and mind to look forward to.
You could start to worry if you’re approaching the feared midlife crisis as you face these existential worries and come to terms with the knowledge that your life has taken a different shape than you imagined.
A midlife crisis does not affect everyone. In truth, research reveals that many people around the world do not experience a midlife crisis.
Some researchers argue that the concept of a midlife crisis is a social construct. Some people claim to have a breakdown because they believe they should suffer a crisis in their 40s.
In the United States, a national survey of midlife performed a poll to assess how many people have midlife crises. A midlife crisis was reported by approximately 26% of the participants.
Signs of a Midlife Crisis
Since “midlife crisis” isn’t an official diagnosis, it’s a difficult concept for researchers to study. Researchers often disagree on what constitutes a midlife crisis. There may be some of the behaviour changes as mentioned below:
- Neglect of personal hygiene
- Dramatic changes in sleep habits
- Weight loss or gain
- Pronounced changes in mood, such as increased anger, irritability, sadness, or anxiety.
- Withdrawal from usual routine or relationships
Why and when does it happen?
For some people, middle age may be the time of regrets.
Midlife is generally accepted as the years between ages 40 and 60, but there’s about 10 years of wiggle room on either side of this range.
Some people may contract illnesses, while others may experience a deterioration in their physical ability.
Midlife can be a time of intense introspection for some people. They may reflect on their lives and wonder what may have happened if they had taken a different path. Some people may come to regret not pursuing a different job route or living the life they once imagined. Others could reminisce about happier times in their lives.
There may be less reflection and more action for goal-oriented people. Rather than reflecting on the past, they may set out to achieve greater goals in the future.
Aspects of a Midlife Crisis That Are Positive
Curiosity, according to a 2016 study published in the International Journal of Behavioural Development, is an advantage of the midlife crisis. Researchers discovered that those going through a crisis, whether it was a quarter-life or a midlife crisis, had increased interest in themselves and the world around them.
Participants’ distress and uncertainty encouraged them to be open to new ideas that could provide insight and innovative solutions. This interest could lead to new breakthroughs or opportunities, which could be a silver lining amid a disaster.
When to get help
Here are some times when you should talk to your doctor or contact a mental health professional:
- Your emotional distress impairs your ability to sleep or it affects your appetite
- You can’t concentrate at work or you’ve had to call in sick due to your distress
- Your stress or mood is taking a toll on your relationships, such as increased fighting with a partner or sibling
- You’ve lost interest in leisure activities and hobbies