Uncertainty, irritability, memories of the past and obsessive thoughts about the future can be signs of a special period, which, in most cases, manifests itself in middle age.
It is associated with categorical image changes, radical decisions and negative feelings.
But is there a midlife crisis? What period is this? And how to deal with it?
“UP.Zhyttya” spoke with psychiatrist Sofia Vloh and turned to Psychology Today and Healthline publications to understand this topic.
Is there a midlife crisis and what is it?
It is important to note that midlife crisis is not a mental disorder and has no clinical symptoms. According to psychologist Sofia Volokh, it is rather certain period of life which is accompanied by change, reflection and reflection.
During this period, people begin to analyze their own lives more: at what stage they are, what they were able to achieve, what they already have. At the same time, there is a comparison of the present life with what was before, as well as an assessment of what may happen.
In middle age, changes also occur in the body and the body: the aging process begins, the body becomes less durable and elastic, it may not live up to our expectations. It could also exacerbate the crisis.
“Any changes are accompanied by certain feelings. If they occur in our body, society, it can affect how we feel.” – adds the psychiatrist.
|Midlife crisis is not a diagnosis, but a difficult period in the life of a middle-aged person. mymentalhealth/Depositphotos|
Also, beginning around age 40, both men and women find that their primary roles in the relationship change, with parents aging and needing care, and children grown up and no longer needing such care.
“A midlife crisis is defined as a period or phase of life transition when a person begins to question what they have achieved or vice versa, and whether these things provide a sense of satisfaction and meaning”– emphasizes doctor of psychology, clinical psychologist Michael G. Vetter.” (I would highlight this with a large type quote)
Signs and symptoms of midlife crisis
Every person has a crisis individually. Some may feel confused and insecure, while others may see this period as an opportunity to analyze their lives and change for the better.
“In general, a crisis can have a certain number of symptoms that can vary depending on the person, but this is not a diagnostic criterion for a specific mental disorder, so specific symptoms are not defined. Different literature gives different symptoms”, – stresses Sofia Vloh.
The “crisis” period may be accompanied by:
- increased anxiety,
- emotional fluctuations,
- low mood,
- a feeling of irritation,
- emotional lability,
- sleep or appetite disturbances.
Therefore, it is worth observing your feelings. If you experience negative emotions, irritability, depressed mood due to reflection or certain changes for a certain period of time, this is similar to a midlife crisis and you should seek help from a psychologist.
Read also: How to understand that it is time to go to a psychologist. 4 specific situations
Crisis in men vs crisis in women
The expert assures that there is no difference in the feelings that may arise during a crisis period in men and women. However, as a result of the crisis, people’s usual behavior can change, and these manifestations can sometimes have initial differences.
“Women may go through the midlife crisis a little more gently, with less radical changes in behavior than men. For example, a man buys a convertible and turns on loud music, while a woman’s focus may be on her body and self-care.”– shares the expert.
Therefore, it is not necessary to compare the midlife crisis in men and women. They go through this stage in the same way, there are no sharp differences.
How long does a midlife crisis last?
During life, a person faces many crises (three, five, seven years) that are connected precisely with changes at a certain age.
By data According to the American Psychological Association, the average age can range from 35 to 60 years. During this period, a person can probably “catch up” with a middle-age crisis.
“We understand that there are certain age limits where we react more acutely to external and internal changes. For example, in middle age, children may move away from their parents, change jobs (promotion or reduction), change family status. Or vice versa: a person has everything it has become so much in life that she begins to think more often: what’s next?“, says Sofia Vloh.
|Each person experiences a midlife crisis differently. elena_kalinicheva/Depositphotos|
The duration of the midlife crisis can vary, depending on the characteristics of a particular person. It is important to take into account that certain changes occur in the human body during middle age: the body becomes weaker
“For some it is half a year or a year, for others – this is a longer stage. Therefore, we cannot divide this crisis into certain stages“, says Vloh.
It is important to understand that the crisis is mainly associated with changes: psychological and hormonal, or their absence. The human body may become weaker, and the skin may become less elastic. This can lead to thoughts about aging, analysis of (not) done during life. In addition, middle-aged people tend to settle down in their careers and may realize that they have not achieved what they wanted.
How a person perceives this will determine his condition: you can see opportunities for growth in this period, and you can see depression and total exhaustion, because changing life becomes more difficult with age.
According to the psychiatrist, changes should be perceived with interest and novelty. It is not always pleasant, but it is not a burden to be depressed or apathetic.
|The crisis is mainly associated with changes: psychological and hormonal, or their absence. Alexcardo/Depositphotos|
How long the crisis will last and how it will pass depends on how we perceive changes in life and how we treat new or lost opportunities, the expert adds.
Everything works in synergy: what temperament a person was born with, what environment he got into and what skills he acquired in this environment – that determines how he will survive the midlife crisis.
That is, if you have been flexible to changes since childhood, have gained experience during your life, how to deal with difficulties and survive difficult periods, then it will be easier for you to go through a crisis if it catches up with you.
How to deal with a midlife crisis
“Midlife crisis, which is not accompanied by certain mental disorders and does not have such symptoms, does not require specific treatment“, the specialist emphasizes.
What to do if you notice signs of a crisis in yourself:
- Take care of yourself
These can be pleasant and useful activities, conversations about what worries you, meetings with friends or loved ones.
For example, change your lifestyle, add physical activity, follow a healthy diet, get enough rest and sleep.
Walking in the fresh air has a good effect on mental health. Try to set aside time every day for an hour-long walk outside with an audiobook and good music.
- Change your thoughts and attitudes
If the thinking is generalized, pessimistic, radical and you recall a past negative experience, it can depress the general mood and lead to negative thoughts. Try to remember the positive changes that have already taken place in your life.
Middle age can be interesting and rewarding. By midlife, most of the insecurities of youth disappear, and more confidence emerges in who you are and what you value.
Although you may have fewer relationships, the ones you do have become deeper and more meaningful.
Often, a midlife crisis is accompanied by self-reflection, since a person has already lived a large part of his life. Here are some questions that will help you to open up your own thoughts more during this period:
- If what others think of you wasn’t an issue, what would you really want to be doing at this point in your life?
- Who in your life or in the wider community has passed this stage with inspiration?
- How do you feel about aging? Do you accept your body as it is now?
- What opportunities does this stage of life open up for you personally and professionally?
Self-reflection in midlife is more than answering a few questions. It requires deep thinking, curiosity, advice and concerted action. Midlife invites you to come face-to-face with your life and honor the person you desperately want to be or have already become. This time in your life is between you and you, not your parents, children, partner or friends.
- Focus on yourself
Mental health experts agree that focusing on yourself during this time is very important. Take the time to ask yourself what you want and how you feel. This can be the first step to understanding if something needs to change.
So before you do anything else, take a moment to reflect on how you’ve been doing over the past few years.
- Learn something new
Learning something new can keep your mind active, give you a new hobby, and give you a sense of pride and accomplishment.
Therefore, if middle-aged people want to drastically change their profession or update their image, it is normal. You shouldn’t make impulsive decisions, but you don’t need to restrain yourself either. If a new car, gadget or activity can help you during this emotional period – act!
- Reconnect with people close to you
Therapists and researchers prove that social connections are important for mental health.
Having people to share good times and holidays with, people to call to talk to, and people to count on when times are tough can make a huge difference to your emotional health.
- Find time for your personal life
Difficulties in marriage are often associated with middle age: divorce or simply the disappearance of romantic and sexual feelings.
There is a popular opinion that temporary affairs can appear in middle age. But if the marriage has cracked, you should talk to your partner, try something new together, go on dates, as in the first years of the relationship, and not look for comfort on the side.
Midlife is a great time to change things in your life that may be a little stagnant. Whether it’s relationships or health, you can take control and make positive changes.
In general, a midlife crisis can be accompanied by a depressive state, however, this does not happen to everyone. If for two weeks you are in a depressed mood, have no desire to do anything and you cannot cope with it on your own, then you should seek help from specialists.
Anastasia Koropetska, UP. Life
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