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Midlife Crisis - Signs and Advice

Updated on October 4, 2014
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Natasha Pelati has published three books of poetry and writes on real-life experiences with the help of psychology.

A midlife crisis is not fun
A midlife crisis is not fun

Midlife Crisis - Oh no!

Shakespeare mentioned a midlife crisis as well as Dante and throughout the ages it has been known for men who have reached the halfway mark to go out and buy a fancy sports car, leave their families behind to run off with a girl the same age as their daughters, dark hair dye, extreme sports and completely crazy and mischievous behaviour.

For the spouse and family members of the man that suddenly becomes the teenager, it can be a painful and strange experience, which some can work through where others feel the need to let go, ending up in divorce.

A midlife change can be one that will lead to depression and for some it is a dark road that can be traumatic and is best dealt with by professionals and for others it is a lesson learned and over expression.

A midlife crisis can be difficult for both the man and his family. Here is how to tell if he is going through a crisis and what to do during this time.

It is a natural biological and physical process of a person maturing.

Learning to embrace the change is important in order to evolve without regret and hurt.


Scenes from the movie, "American Beauty," an example of a midlife crisis
Scenes from the movie, "American Beauty," an example of a midlife crisis
Look for the signs of a midlife crisis
Look for the signs of a midlife crisis

Signs of a midlife crisis

The age seems to have changed a little but for most men it starts in the 40's. Insomnia, fatigue, the loss of concentration, regrets, longing for something and questions about life in general, are signs that there is a midlife crisis on board.

Boredom with a partner is also a sign of a midlife crisis as men start to wonder about what it would be like to hit on the 18 year old on the beach, especially if they have been with the same women for the last half of their lives.

The experience of a midlife crisis is the combination of feelings, events and physical changes that occur, which alter the personality.

Don't worry it doesn't last too long but for those who have no idea what to expect and how to feel, there are a few ways to cope with a midlif crisis so that it doesn't have to be a crisis but instead, a transition.


Change in character
Change in character
depression
depression
Wanting to do something out of the ordinary
Wanting to do something out of the ordinary

Symptoms of a midlife crisis

  1. Suddenly looking in the mirror and realising that you do not look the same.
  2. Unexplained bouts of depression when doing things that usually make you happy
  3. A desire to quit your job or make a change in career
  4. Change in habits with activities that made you happy and are now boring
  5. Lack of concentration or the inability to complete something that was easy to do
  6. Getting hurt feels good
  7. The desire to want to run away
  8. The need to get into physical shape
  9. Unexpected anger and irritability
  10. Sudden interest in something new; learning to play a musical instrument, wanting to free fall, write, sing or anything that you have never done before
  11. A change in your sleeping pattern (usually less)
  12. Fatigue
  13. Thinking about death or assuming you have an ailment
  14. Extreme dietery changes
  15. Over expanding your wardrobe and changing your hair colour
  16. The need to want to look good
  17. The desire to change or surround yourself in different settings
  18. Making new friends from a different generation
  19. Restarting something you stopped in your 20's
  20. A need to change the world
  21. Feling trapped by responsibility
  22. Leaving your family (mentally or physically) as you feel trapped by them
  23. Obsessing about your childhood and looking back at the best years of your life in pictures and video
  24. Recent stress can cause a midlife crisis
  25. Doing things that would be completely out of characteror that will get you into trouble
  26. Contradicting feelings that lead to you feeling depressed, moody

Some men leave their families when having a midlife crisis
Some men leave their families when having a midlife crisis

What is a midlife crisis?

A midlife crisis is the process of change and a man's need to restart his life or to improve his life, whilst feeling trapped and emotionally lost. A crisis begins way before the actual signs appear as the body changes physically.

It is only once the person begins to make drastic changes or behaves in a strange and unusual way, that we can see the signs but it has to be handled with caution as many men feel trapped or caged during this time and your approach must be a delicate one.

For many men, change is easy and they can accept the alterations in their emotional and physical state, learn from their regrets, mistakes and whilst wishing that they were young again, learn to move forward and adapt with their families by their side.

For others, there is depression which needs attention from doctors and family support is essential.

Many men don't work through the crisis and for some families the heartbreak of watching their father run away in a sports car with a girl half his age, whilst not even waving goodbye, is a popular crisis action which leads to unhappy families, divorce and years of regret later on.

It can be an evolution for some and for others it can be a life changing experience that will either make him grow or fall.

How have you coped in a midlife crisis

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Older guys think younger girls can keep them young
Older guys think younger girls can keep them young

How to cope with a midlife crisis

Experiencing a midlife crisis is not about curing symptoms as it is not something you go to the doctor for in order to find a cure. It is a change or alteration in a man's life where he is looking for ways to change his life and either finds a way to evolve or destruct whilst trying.

For many men and women, life goes by so quickly and suddenly reaching a point in your life where you realise that you have aged, missed out on opportunities and have been tied down to a family with responsibilities, gets you down because after your children are grown up, life feels like it is over and time is running out.

Embracing change is rather difficult when hair begins to grow in the strangest places and loss of hair in the places that you would like to keep it. Hair loss and the growth of grey hairs can be daunting to some as well as the sudden change in the physique.

Some men who were once sporty are now prone to broken bones and snapped tendons just by a slight over exhurtion whilst attempting to work out.

A person going through a midlife crisis often feels alone and misunderstood and avoid the family responsibility and the spouse to prevent feeling judged for the outbursts of abnormal behaviour.

It does not have to be that way and partners should be understanding as well as allow their spouse to make the changes that they feel are needed.

After being a husband, a father and the bread winner, time for the things that you have really wanted to do, slips by and only at this time does it form a panic with the idea that life is short and time is running out.

For the family members of those who are going through changes, be patient, be understanding and go through some of these new ideas together, in order to evolve naturally and without hurt in the relationship or family circle.

The process of change is hard and most of the time, confusing for the one that is going through it. Avoid being judgmental and allow for certain changes, even if they are a little crazy because if you do not have patience and allow for certain changes whilst adapting, it could drive your partner away as they feel trapped and alone.

Work through the changes together and as the person going through the midlife process, avoid making the common mistakes by taking a look at your life and realising that you have created a beautiful family and built a life together, before you do anything out of the ordinary or make a drastic change.

Everyone that has gone through the crisis has felt misunderstood, alone and confused but a girl half your age will definitely not understand you at all....just your wallet.

Go through the process with your family and know that time is not running out and that you have the time to make changes in your life, have fun and experience the things that you haven't been able to do before.

Keep your family close as you go through this and allow them to help you go through the changes.

Stress and Depression in a midlife crisis

Radical changes that can be damaging with regrets later on can cause depression or stress. It can also feel very uncomfortable, causing people to seek help with therapy.

The feelings that are felt during a midlife crisis; discontent, boredom, unhappiness with a life you have been happy with for years and confusion can be brought on by stress or a change in situations at home or work. It could be brought on by the loss of a friend or loved one too.

Understanding the process of a midlife change will help tremendously in coping with it and for some, being brave and just going with it can lead many to depression.

If you do feel as if the world is falling down and you have cancer, about to die or your life is over then dealing with those feelings is something that you should not be doing alone. Talk to your partner or seek medical advice as leaving it could destroy your family and your own personal life.

Making a life for yourself is hard work and providing for a family takes years of your time. Suddenly, you have a home with a mortgage and nothing to show for all the hard work that you have put in. Friends and family members around you have overseas holidays, bikes, cars, boats and all the boys toys that you can name, excpet for you. All you have is face that looks older, a body that doesn't do what it used to and nothing to show for all your hard time.

This leads a man to have a crisis because while life carried on, they got older and didn'tget the opportunity to do the things that they thought they would have done years before.

For those men who feel that they are older and have achieved nothing:

You have success because you have a family who you have been a father to, a spouse that loves you,( even though she has also gotten older) and if you do not have the cars, boats, bikes or have not done the things that you have wanted to do..... what are you waiting for?

Life is not over and it doesn't end when you reach your middle years....in fact it is the beginning of a whole new chapter.

Try new things with your wife, take the holiday you always wanted to, save up for the boat, get into shape but leave the heavy weights for the younger generation and accept your maturity with grace, knowing that there will still be a girl or two that will look at you and think that the older gentleman is distinguished and sexy, whilst you walk down the road with your loving wife who will happily go through your adventures with you, if you ask her to.



Why do men go through a midlife crisis?

It is common in almost every household for a man to go through changes. Research from men that I have asked seems to all fall back on one thing; regret.

Many of them have said that they married at an early age and worked to provide for a family, holding off on plans to do their chosen hobbies. Once they reached the age where they realised that youth was not on their side, they suddenly had a panic attack because they felt that life had passed them by and they had not achieved anything.

They all felt that age came out of nowhere and, "When I looked in the mirror and blinked, I was older and my life had passed me by."

At the age where their peers have become successful and have managed to travel the world, buy all the luxurious things that they had dreamed about, the men in crisis felt that they had achieved nothing and the idea of having fun and adventure was great in theory but when they decided to try it, they realised that their bodies just could not cope with the energy levels required to do the things that they desired, when they were younger.

The shock of their physical capabilities and the changes in their facial features gave them a shock to the system. Most of them realised that they were getting older when enormous pressure or stress was added to their lives at the time, which triggered off the midlife crisis.

Many of them said that if they had travelled and explored the world in their youth as a single man, they might not have felt the way that they did during a crisis but most (denied going through changes) whilst saying that at the stage of their lives where they have realised changes in their physical health, (although they could still get any women that they wanted) meant that they could not do all the things that they wanted to when they were younger and reaching the age where they discovered changes in their bodies, made them think that there lives were over and there would be no possible way that they could live out there youthful dreams today.

They all felt that they loved their families but many said that they felt misunderstood and as they were going back to their youth and trying to do the last mile, their wives were ageing gracefully, with judgement for their stupid suggestions.

For many others, their spouses did not realise that they had even gone through bouts of depression as they kept it to themselves, whilst writing out their wills and planning their funerals.

A few felt as though they were going to die because of the drastic physical changes and sudden weird ailments that they had only seen with old people, suddenly happening to them. The lack of concentration and the sudden change in blood pressure and eyesight also freaked them out, leading them to believe that life was slowly coming to an end, which was a warning sign to wake up and do the things that they had always wanted to do before they die.

It is nobody's fault and stress is something that happens to everyone at some stage of their lives but it is only then that they start to wonder about life and how to change it.

Depresion for some was easy to overcome as they understood that their bodies were changing and they accepted that they just could not do what they could when they were younger.

Others turned to medical help to avoid hurting their families and themselves.

One out of the twenty men that I interviewed, actually went through the process with his wife by his side at all times. The others denied a midlife crisis and many said that they worked through it alone, with a few problems and issues along the way.

Four out of the twenty got divorced and moved in with younger women. Three out of the four regret making that decision.

Graceful or Encourageable?


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National Lampoons Vacation - Chevy Chase flirting with a younger woman, while his wife is in the hotel room
National Lampoons Vacation - Chevy Chase flirting with a younger woman, while his wife is in the hotel room

Have you been through a midlife crisis?

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