Between the age of late thirties and late fifties, men and women navigate through an important curve in their life and might experience feelings ranging from dissatisfaction about their life choices, to mood swings and identity loss. Such symptoms clearly suggest that the person is going through midlife crisis.
First introduced by Elliot Jaques in 1965, the term “midlife crisis” was described as a normal period during the lifespan, another growth point when we transition from young people to older adults. During this time, adults assess where they are in life, evaluate their achievements, goals, and dreams, and make some needed adjustments.
Symptoms of midlife crisis differ from men to women but common signs for both remain noticeable such as obsession with appearances, drastic changes in habits, and mood change.
Though this transitional period brings up the unfortunate images of broken marriages and adults acting like teens again, it is neither a time of trouble nor a compulsory stop in one’s life journey.
People who spend their lives dedicated to fulfilling their aspirations, growing older feels easier as they navigate through the process smoothly without making major life changes.
Unfortunately, for others who lived their life on “autopilot mode”, realising suddenly that time has passed them by, and that they are getting older without having accomplished very much, this experience is most likely to be tainted with feelings of resentment and regret. Chances are this emotional state will be a one-way ticket to depression and alcoholism.
Other factors may also contribute to making midlife transition an overwhelming experience, for instance,
- “Empty nest”
- Coping poorly with stress
- Childhood issues that were never dealt with tend to resurface during this period.
- Tendency to avoid conflicts
Thus, midlife crisis can be a positive experience if one embraces change and thrive to become the person they dream to be. Most importantly one needs to handle this life curve in a healthy manner by:
- Acknowledging the changes happening and sharing emotions, fears and hopes with the loved ones
- Not jumping to temporary solutions such as leaving the spouse/having an affair or increasing alcohol consumption to mask the feelings of regret and depression
- Seeking immediate help if one experiences depression like symptoms
- Getting out of the comfort zone and trying new activities (sports, travel, hobbies, etc.)
- Creating positive changes that generate new energy in the relationship or career
- Embracing a healthy life style
Written by: Sanaa Lundgren Counsellor & Collaborative Family Practitioner SACAC Counselling