A midlife crisis is the basis of stereotypes and jokes: the life stage when you suddenly feel tempted to do impulsive, outrageous things such as leave your spouse, buy a flashy motorbike and walk away from your job.
And middle-age isn't the only life stage that's associated with a "crisis". The late 20s to early 30s can also be marked by confusion, anxiety, and depression. The emotions triggered by this transitional period have become known as the quarter-life crisis.
But mental health experts now say that the term crisis isn't always accurate. The transition between one life stage and the next may cause people to feel dejected, but it can also be the start of a period of creativity, energy and personal development. So it's essential to understand the signs of a midlife or quarter-life crisis so you can take action to prevent it from evolving into more severe depression.
As we age, we experience abrupt, profound changes as we pass through different life stages, and this can sometimes be uncomfortable. A midlife crisis is an unsettling period of transition between 40 and 55, although this can vary somewhat. And it's also essential to bear in mind that men and women may experience midlife crises in different ways.
People sometimes confuse a midlife crisis with depression. But a key difference is that depression is a biologically-based disorder when you feel blue every day. With a midlife crisis, you will feel fine some days and distressed and dejected at other times.
This type of crisis is a psychological condition triggered by the conflict between how you perceive yourself and how you want to be. The term "midlife crisis" was coined by scientist Elliot Jacques in 1957, but the concept certainly isn't confined to the modern era. A challenging transition from one life stage to another being a challenge is a common theme in art and literature through the ages.
Psychologist Erik Erikson defined the challenges and resolutions of our life stages. For example, young adults must resolve the conflict between intimacy and isolation to achieve loving adult relationships, while people in later middle age face the battle between generativity vs stagnation, which is resolved by parenthood or caring.
Are you wondering if you're experiencing a midlife crisis? The symptoms can vary quite widely, and because there's an overlap between some symptoms and those of depression, it can be challenging to figure out what's going on. Try answering the following questions:
If you have answered yes to five or more of these questions, you may need to make some changes to help you cope with this life stage.
Men and women experience a midlife crisis in different ways, and in addition, individuals show a wide range of symptoms. Some may suffer only one or two characteristics, while others may experience several or all of them.
In their middle years, men are at a higher risk of depression, although the sadness experienced in a midlife crisis is less intense than other depressive conditions. Men may also suffer from irritability, aggression and anger. In addition, their libido sometimes decreases, and they may experience erectile problems. Men suffering from these symptoms may find that Bach Flower Mix 41 helps stimulate the sex drive and overcome performance anxiety.
Women experiencing a midlife crisis can experience similar symptoms to men. However, they tend to feel tearful rather than angry and may find that hormonal disturbances complicate their symptoms. Menopause is a natural transition in life when fluctuating oestrogen levels can trigger mood swings and feelings of sadness. Bach Flower Mix 40 is formulated to help improve sleep, boost libido, control weight and avoid mood swings.
Your mid-twenties to mid-thirties may be full of exciting challenges, but these years are also a time of transition that can feel overwhelming. Graduating from university, moving to your first home, settling down with a partner or getting married, or leaving a relationship: these major life events can be stressful. And much of our satisfaction and happiness will depend on how we deal with these changes.
When you experience a quarter-life crisis, you may feel stressed out and be worried about how to make the transition into the next stage of adult life. You're facing many concerns for the first time and might worry that you're making the wrong choices. Or you believe that you should already have all the answers. If you're not sure whether you're experiencing a quarter-life crisis, try asking yourself the following questions:
Any of these signs may indicate that you're in the midst of a quarter-life crisis. But you're not the only one: many people face similar challenges, and it's best to confront them as soon as possible. If you ignore these warning signs, they may lead to risky behaviours such as alcohol and substance abuse, panic attacks or depression. Acknowledge your quarter-life crisis and look for healthy techniques to deal with it.
To resolve a midlife crisis, you must make peace with your life up to now and either continue on the same path or make changes for a more fulfilling life.
When you're in the midst of a midlife crisis, your emotions tell you to do something to get out of it - if you leave your job or dump your partner, your problems will be over. But it's essential to take your time, don't make any hasty decisions or dramatic changes.
If you're feeling isolated or lonely, find someone to talk to. If you don't want to talk to friends or family, talk to a counsellor or therapist.
While your emotions are real, they might be based on a misinterpretation of your situation. Are things really as bad as you imagine? Ask others for an objective assessment.
If, after careful thought, you want to make significant changes, do it kindly. Break the news to your family and others who might be affected in a considerate way.
A quarter-life crisis occurs when a person questions their identity as they move towards the next stage of adulthood, so there are different ways to cope:
Whether you think you're experiencing a midlife crisis or a quarter-life crisis, take time to reflect. Understanding that you're in a transitional phase is essential. So take your time, make the right choices, and you will navigate through the crisis to a happier, more satisfying life.
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