The age at which midlife crisis symptoms ensue varies from one individual to the next, although the average age was discovered to be 46 in men and women. However, the length of time when midlife crisis lasts will vary in men (3 to 10 years) and women (2 to 5 years).
First introduced into mainstream consciousness by Elliot Jacques in 1965, the term midlife crisis (we at Happiness After Midlife prefer to use the term "midlife transition") refers to a period of dramatic self-doubt experienced during the middle age of life.
The many aspects of midlife crisis symptoms can be caused by aging itself; also normal difficulties and regrets we may have complicate life. Thus, changes in work, spousal relationships, maturation of children, death of parents and physical changes can all play a role in the onset of midlife crisis. Interestingly, men appear to have work issues as their primary trigger.
The symptoms of midlife crisis itself show up in many ways so much so that no two individuals will experience the same set of symptoms in the same degrees of intensity, frequency and severity. There are three categories of symptoms relating to emotional feelings, actual behaviours, and physical signs.
Often, the emotional feelings border on depression such that it is necessary to consult a psychiatrist to rule out the mental disorder. The individual will feel extreme boredom, obsess about mortality, question purpose in life and simply be stuck in a rut of routines.
As for actual behaviour, midlife crisis symptoms in men and women often take on similar signs. These include unexplainable fatigue, irritability, sadness and mood swings coupled with bouts of excessive consumption of whatever is being fancied at the moment. Although many will experience the loss of libido, others will swing the opposite way by engaging in sexual adventures that may have been unthinkable had midlife crisis not ensued.
We can attribute physical signs of a midlife crisis to aging itself although these symptoms appear to be greater in intensity because of the above mentioned emotional aspects. These signs include sudden weight gain or weight loss, sudden obsession with physical appearance including fears of hair loss and wrinkles, as well as stiffness of the body, to name a few.
All of these midlife crisis symptoms require time, effort and energy to cope with successfully. There is no magic bullet; each of us experience midlife transition differently. Many sufferers have to undergo trial and error to arrive at an effective program to combat the symptoms.
Many coping mechanisms, nonetheless, can be effective. These include rediscovering yourself, accepting and sharing of feelings; rediscovering the excitement in the spousal relationship; spending quality time with the children and grandchildren as well as with friends; meeting new people; setting new goals in life; trying new things in hobbies or sports; volunteering in causes close to the heart; adopting healthier lifestyle habits; and even seeking therapy.
Experiencing so-called midlife crisis symptoms may be inevitable for most, if not all, individuals. The good news is that there are ways to successfully overcome this turning point so that a fuller, healthier and longer life can be enjoyed in midlife and beyond.