Why is a midlife crisis called a crisis?
A midlife crisis can indeed be considered a crisis due to the significant impact it can have on an individual’s life. It can happen between the ages of 40-65 years and is experienced usually after a profound loss that makes you question either yourself, others, the world, or all three. A midlife crisis is a crisis of identity that can affect you in any one or more of these differing ways:
Psychological Impact: It often involves a deep sense of unease, dissatisfaction, or even despair about one’s life. This can lead to feelings of confusion, anxiety, and depression as individuals grapple with their sense of identity, purpose, and accomplishments.
Identity and Self-Reflection: People in the midst of a midlife crisis might question the choices they’ve made, their achievements, and their overall direction in life. This introspection can be intense and disruptive, causing distress and an urgent need for change.
Behavioural Changes: A midlife crisis might prompt drastic changes in behaviour. This could involve making impulsive decisions like quitting a job, ending a relationship, or engaging in risky behaviours. These sudden changes can disrupt stability and cause turmoil in one’s life. Sudden changes are not encouraged unless they have been well thought through and are proactive in the way in which they can begin to shape the person you want to be or the life you want to lead – they shouldn’t be reactive to another situation.
Impact on Relationships: Relationships can suffer during a midlife crisis. Individuals might feel disconnected from their partners, leading to conflict or even the breakdown of long-term relationships. The need for change can cause strain and misunderstanding between partners and family members.
Existential Angst: Confronting mortality and realising that a significant portion of life has passed can trigger existential angst. Questions about the meaning and purpose of life often arise, causing profound distress and a sense of urgency to find answers.
Physical Manifestations: Stress associated with a midlife crisis can lead to physical symptoms like sleep disturbances, changes in appetite, and increased susceptibility to illness due to weakened immunity.
While the term “midlife crisis” might sometimes be used humorously or trivially, individuals’ challenges during this period can be genuinely distressing and impactful. It’s a time of re-evaluation, and the psychological, emotional, and sometimes physical effects can indeed warrant the term “crisis.” Recognising it as such can encourage empathy and support leading to increased self-compassion, or increased compassion for others experiencing it.