Posted by Jennifer Wickham, L.P.C.
March 04, 2016
I was recently asked, “Can someone have a midlife crisis?” This is a great question, as all of us go through personal issues and transitions in our lives. The term “midlife crisis” was coined in 1965 by Elliot Jacques, M.D., Ph.D., a Canadian psychoanalyst, to describe challenges during the normal period of transition and self-reflection that many adults experience from age 40 to 60. During these years, an adult may commonly question who they are in this world and in their life, what their purpose is and how have they used their time thus far. These questions can be triggered by the realization of the passage of time, changes that may occur with the physical body, such as a health scare or a lessoned ability to perform physical tasks.
Your midlife crisis, or transition, may occur around significant life events, such your youngest child moving away or finishing college. You may feel it when you are entering a new decade or after the death of a parent.
The emotions these questions and changes prompt may cause you discomfort, stress and confusion, and may lead you to feel that you are in a crisis. Despite this stress, you might experience this time as the beginning of a new and exciting stage of life.
Occasionally, midlife transitions might invoke depression, and it’s important you recognize these symptoms if you’re not quite feeling like yourself:
- Have your eating or sleeping habits changed, or are you feeling tired and run down?
- Do you have feelings of pessimism or hopelessness?
- Do you have feelings of restlessness, anxiety or irritability?
- Are you feeling a loss of interest in activities that you once enjoyed, including sex and hobbies?
- Are you having thoughts of suicide or attempts at suicide?
- Do you have physical symptoms, such as headaches or other physical aches or pains, that don't respond to treatment?
Here are some tips to help:
- Stay active. Go for daily walks and get some fresh air.
- Stay social. Stay engaged with friends and family.
- Meditate. Take a yoga course or learn how to meditate to clear your mind.
Though this is a normal transition of adult development, if you or a loved one believes that you are engaging in out-of-character behavior or making sudden changes to major life areas, such as work or relationships, it can be helpful to seek the support of a professional.
Jennifer Wickham is a licensed professional counselor at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire.