“What horrifies me most is the idea of being useless: well-educated, brilliantly promising, and fading out into an indifferent middle age.” – Sylvia Plath  (Plath, n.d.) (Plath, n.d.)
A mid-life crisis is a phase of self-reflection and transition that a few people struggle with in middle age. Feelings of restlessness, dissatisfaction, and a desire for change or novelty often characterize it. While not everyone experiences a mid-life crisis, it can be a regular part of the aging process for some individuals.
WHAT IS A MID-LIFE CRISIS?
Mid-life is when people sit back and say, ‘Well, now that I’m all grown up, what do I want to be?’, as per Jerrold Lee. 
The term ‘Mid-life crisis’ defines a phase of emotional and psychological unrest that people in middle adulthood, usually between 35 and 60, may experience. It’s characterized by dissatisfaction, anxiety, and a sense of loss or confusion about one’s identity, purpose, or direction in life.
People amid a mid-life crisis may feel trapped or unfulfilled in their current job, relationship, or lifestyle and may start questioning their life choices or the meaning of their existence. They may also engage in impulsive or reckless behavior, such as buying a sports car, having an affair, or quitting their job without a clear plan.
Although this mid-life crisis is a common phenomenon, not everyone experiences it similarly, and it can vary in intensity and duration. Some people emerge from it with a renewed sense of purpose and vitality, while others may struggle to find meaning and happiness. It’s important to note that a mid-life crisis is not a clinical diagnosis but a descriptive term to describe a shared life experience.
WHAT FACTORS CONTRIBUTE TO MID-LIFE CRISIS?
There is no definitive answer to the factors contributing to a mid-life crisis.
However, Experts say that a mid-life crisis can happen because of a significant life change, such as the demise of a loved one, retirement, divorce, or even becoming an empty nester. Other contributing factors include feelings of stagnation or dissatisfaction with one’s current life situation, a sense that time is running out to accomplish personal goals, and worries about aging and declining health.
In many cases, people experiencing mid-life crises become acutely aware of their mortality and feel an urgency to change their lives while they still can. It often leads to impulsive decision-making, risky behaviors, restlessness, and discontentment. If you are currently going through a mid-life crisis, talk to a therapist or counselor who can help you process your feelings and make positive changes.
STAGES OF MID-LIFE CRISIS
Mid-life crises can materialize differently for different people, according to researchers. The mid-life crisis may follow these three general stages :
- The thought of ‘getting older’ triggers an anxious response. It can be a significant birthday, the death of someone close, a switch in career, or anything that may force a person to think about their age or life.
- During the mid-life crisis, a person may examine varied identities, redefine close relationships, or look for new sources to provide a better life meaning. Dr. Guttman called it “Ego Mastery” .
- The person in crisis may find a resolution through therapy. It may help them recognize that they are living through a typical and expected phase of life. Necessary reorientation is hugely supportive. 
A mid-life crisis might take a few weeks to a couple of years to resolve. These could be the possible stages of mid-life crises: 
- Denial: At the onset, a person usually attempts to fight or deny that they are growing older.
- Anger: Once the acceptance starts to fall in place, people start feeling enraged about the challenges of mid-life or about their incompetence in managing those challenges.
- Replay: People may try to recount the aspects of their youth that they found most appealing by having cosmetic surgery, having an illicit relationship, or slacking off their obligations.
- Depression: Depressive and anxious feelings might settle in when replaying fails.
- Withdrawal: People might want space from loved ones to cope with depression.
- Acceptance: A person acknowledges aging and wants to explore life’s meaning and purpose.
- Experimentation: Some people may respond to their mid-life crisis by experimenting with new experiences, hobbies, or relationships. It may involve taking risks or seeking novel experiences to break out of their routine.
- Decision-making: Eventually, people may start to make more significant changes in their lives, such as changing careers, ending a relationship, or relocating. They may feel a sense of urgency to make changes before it’s too late.
SIGNS OF A MID-LIFE CRISIS
The signs of a mid-life crisis differ for everyone. However, some general symptoms are the following: 
- Increased restlessness or boredom and a desire for change or novelty
- A sense of dissatisfaction with one’s career, relationships, or lifestyle
- Anxiety about aging, mortality, or the future
- Reduced interest in activities that earlier used to be fun
- Disruption in appetite, sleep patterns, or energy levels
- Increased risk-taking behavior, such as impulsive purchases or substance abuse
- Relationship problems, such as infidelity or divorce
- A preoccupation with youthfulness, appearance, or physical fitness
- Increased irritability, moodiness, or feelings of depression
- A desire to reassess one’s values, priorities, and life goals.
According to Jackson, dramatic changes in a person’s attitude and behavior toward life might indicate a crisis. They may be captivated by their past or idealize their future, and they may be willing to take more risks, such as quitting their stable job or buying expensive things. Multiple stress-related issues, like sleep and mood swings, can lead to a crisis.
We may notice that these signs can very easily be confused as symptoms of depression. Understanding the differences can help with the correct identification.
A mental health mood disorder characterized by persistent sadness, loss of interest, and hopelessness.
Although not a diagnosable medical or psychiatric condition, it is a period of doubt, anxiety, and inner turmoil in middle age.
There is no age barrier for people diagnosed with depression, whether children, teenagers, or adults.
Indicators emerge in median age.
Triggered by an amalgamation of biological, psychological, and social factors.
It stems from a person’s re-evaluation of the purpose of their life.
Repetitive patterns or severity of symptoms may arise.
Feelings of impending doom and dissatisfaction might be a recognizable pattern
Medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes can be the possible treatment.
When a person starts feeling more at peace with their path in life, the symptoms may lessen.
TIPS TO DEAL WITH A MID-LIFE CRISIS
Overcoming a mid-life crisis can be challenging. Still, some information may help: 
Tip 1 – Acceptance: Acknowledge and accept that you are going through a mid-life crisis and that it’s a normal part of the aging process.
Tip 2- Self-reflection: Reflect on your values, goals, and purpose. Consider seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor to understand your feelings and emotions.
Tip 3 – Mindfulness: You can use techniques like deep breathing or meditation to stay focused on the present moment.
Tip 4 – Self-care: It’s essential to exercise regularly, consume a nutritious diet, ensure adequate sleep, and participate in stress-reducing activities to maintain good physical and mental health.
Tip 5 – Social support: Seek support from friends and family members who can offer understanding, empathy, and encouragement.
Tip 6 – Pursue new interests: Explore new hobbies or activities that bring you joy and fulfillment, and consider taking risks and trying new things.
Tip 7 – Professional development: Consider pursuing further education or training to expand your career opportunities and enhance your sense of purpose.
Tip 8 – Gratitude: Focus on the positive aspects of your life and cultivate gratitude for the good things you have rather than dwelling on what you may feel is missing.
Tip 9 – Seek professional help: You must realize you don’t have to handle everything alone. Use a mental health professional’s assistance to navigate the difficulties of a midlife crisis and transform the problems into possibilities.
It’s important to remember that overcoming a mid-life crisis is a process that takes time and that progress may not be linear. Be patient and compassionate with yourself, and seek help if you feel overwhelmed or stuck.
A mid-life crisis is a transition and self-reflection experienced by many people as they approach middle age. Factors that may contribute to a mid-life crisis include aging, unfulfilled aspirations, relationship issues, career dissatisfaction, health concerns, and financial pressures. While there is no set pattern for a mid-life crisis, standard stages may include denial, questioning, experimentation, decision-making, and acceptance. Signs of a mid-life crisis may include restlessness, dissatisfaction, anxiety, changes in behavior or mood, and a desire to reassess one’s life goals. Tips for overcoming a mid-life crisis include acceptance, self-reflection, mindfulness, self-care, social support, pursuing new interests, professional development, and cultivating gratitude. It’s important to remember that overcoming a mid-life crisis takes time and effort, and seeking help from a mental health professional may be beneficial.
If you are facing a mid-life crisis, reach out to our mental health experts. At United We Care, a team of wellness professionals and mental health experts will guide you with the best methods for well-being.
 S. Plath, “A quote from The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath,” Goodreads.com. [Online]. Available here: [Accessed: 10-May-2023]
A. Petersen, “The Virtuous Midlife Crisis,” WSJ.
“Therapy for Midlife Crisis, Therapist for Midlife Crisis,” Therapy for Midlife Crisis, Therapist for Midlife Crisis, Sep. 15, 2009.
 R. Martin and H. Prosen, “Mid-life Crisis: Growth or Stagnation,” PubMed Central (PMC).
 “Midlife Crisis: Signs, Causes And Treatments,” Forbes Health, Aug. 11, 2022.
 F. J. Infurna, D. Gerstorf, and M. E. Lachman, “Midlife in the 2020s: Opportunities and Challenges,” PubMed Central (PMC).
 www.ETHospitalityWorld.com, “Midlife crisis: Embracing change for self-transformation – ET HospitalityWorld,” ETHospitalityWorld.com.
 A. Petersen, “‘I Refocused on Living a Life With Purpose’: Readers Share Their Stories of Midlife Crisis,” WSJ, Apr. 02, 2023.