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What is a Mid-Life Crisis?

By Garry Crystal
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A mid-life crisis is an emotional condition that can appear in both men and women, usually around the age of 35 to 50 years. The anxiety felt usually focuses on the realization that the person’s life is halfway over. There are many reasons why a person may experience this. According to research, one of the factors in this condition has to do with aging. The person may feel that by the time she reaches the supposed halfway point in life, she should have achieved more.

A mid-life crisis may be triggered by certain conditions. An unhappy marriage, dissatisfaction with work, or the simple truth that one is getting older may account for the condition. Some theories hold that this condition may be the result of depression.

Whatever the reasons behind the crisis, it is a very real condition that can manifest itself in different ways. The stereotypical image of the male in mid-life crisis is one who seeks different ways to regain his youth. His clothes and girlfriends become younger, and he buys a sports car and adopts a carefree attitude towards life. A more serious reaction can be suicide.

Some men experience mid-life crises for around ten years, while women's usually last five years. Apart from aging, another factor that can trigger this condition is the death of one’s parents. This experience can bring about a sudden realization of one's mortality and can have a severe psychological effect.

Many men and women who marry at a young age are prone to mid-life crisis. Another factor that can bring on the condition is one's children eventually leaving home. The feeling of emptiness in the home can trigger this situation. This is not always a bad thing. It can be the mind’s reaction to a person's feelings of dissatisfaction.

Many people who have been set in their ways for many years can suddenly change, and others may put it down to a mid-life crisis. The change may result from a realization that one can do better in life and achieve more as time seemingly begins to run out. When combined with anxiety and doubt, it may be the kick some people need to achieve more in their lives.

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Discussion Comments

By anon310212 — On Dec 20, 2012

It's mostly 50 according to studies, but a midlife crisis, in my opinion, is a silly thing.

By anon307370 — On Dec 04, 2012

Dude, it doesn't matter if you look older when you're doing the fun behaviors. It's about how you feel. I think people judge midlife change people too harshly. They just want to have fun and feel alive.

Often times they have achieved a lot in life already, but how? By being serious, sensible, responsible and having no fun. And you wake up and think on my death bed I do not want more money, I want to remember all the fun. So they get a sports car or younger lover or whatever. Both men and women make changes to enjoy their life more. So what? More power to them I say.

You can tell the article was written by a young person who does not realize that you don't magically turn into a boring mature robot as you get older. You just choose to put responsibility first and then later your need to have fun just has to come out.

By sunshine31 — On Oct 02, 2010

Latte31-I think that a mid life crisis hits people in different ways, but for me I tend to be optimistic and at age 41, I could not be happier with my life.

I think that you are more confident when you are older and suffer less from the insecurities that plagued you when you were younger because you know who you are and are pretty much set in your ways.

I think it is never too late to change your life for the better. If you start to develop mid life crisis symptoms, you simply have to consider the alternative-death. That should definitely put things in perspective quickly for you.

By latte31 — On Oct 02, 2010

Greenweaver- A mid life crisis is not reserved for men, women experience it too. When a women experiences a menopause mid life crisis she also grieves her youth develops a mid life crisis depression.

Some women feel the loss of their menstruation and the ability to bear children as a major loss to their feminine identity.

The hormonal changes going on in a women’s life at this time also make matters worse. Women feeling this loss of identity should seek mid life crisis help psychologically and physiologically so that they can fix any hormonal imbalance that they may have.

The loss of estrogen is part of the reason that women begin to experience physical and psychological changes. Talking to other women can also be empowering especially when you realize that you can now focus on things that you were too busy to do before.

By GreenWeaver — On Oct 02, 2010

A midlife crisis usually occurs around age 40, when you realize that your life is half over.

Some people go through a mid life crisis depression because they feel like they have not lived up to their childhood dreams.

This is especially true if you feel that you have lost your passion in life. Sometimes mid life crisis symptoms include an obsession with looking younger.

The men’s mid life crisis might include dating a significantly younger women and maybe getting a flashy sports car. In reality this actually makes the man look older and not younger, because there is such a contrast with the younger partner.

Having some regrets in life is normal, but this can also be the time for renewal and seeking a different course in your life. Perhaps you can change careers or open that business you always wanted to.

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