Midlife crisis is a term referring to a critical phase in human development during the forties to early sixties, based on the character of change points, or periods of transition. The period is said to vary among individuals and between men and women. It's traditionally seen as a male domain, but a midlife crisis can happen to women too.
Researchers have found men and women, during their 40s and 50s, experience this time when feelings of happiness and life satisfaction decrease and feelings of depression and discontentment increase. The circumstances unique to their lives such as their financial or marital status, health condition, culture or family structure do not necessarily influence or prevent having a time of crisis during mid-life.
Even though midlife crisis should not be confused with a physical deficiency, one of the the things some men can expect as they age is Late-Onset Hypogonadism (LOH).This refers to the age-related gradual decline in serum testosterone levels in men. Testosterone or T, the male sex hormone or androgen, is responsible for the development and maintenance of male sexual characteristics as well as the production of sperm.
T levels are highest in a man's 20s and thereafter fall at a rate of about one per cent each year once they pass 30. This is a natural part of ageing, but in some cases lower than normal testosterone levels may result in LOH. Typical symptoms include reduced libido, loss of morning erections, erectile dysfunction and fatigue; mood swings and depression can also occur. LOH is often likened to menopause in middle-aged women, and is thus called "male menopause", "andropause" or even "man-opause".
A mid-life crisis is experienced by some people as they realize they have reached a midpoint in their lifespan and experience conflicts or dissatisfaction within themselves because of unrealized goals, self-perceptions or physical changes as a result of aging or health issues. Sometimes, a crisis can be triggered by transitions such as andropause or menopause, the death of parents or other causes of grief, unemployment or underemployment, or children leaving home. Additionally, when experiencing a mid-life crisis, people may reassess their achievements in terms of their dreams. The result may be a desire to make significant changes in areas such as career, work-life balance, marriage, romantic relationships, finances, or physical appearance.
Warning Signs of a Midlife Crisis
Wondering if your partner is going through a midlife crisis? Has their behavior changed? Do they seem unhappy and suddenly desire a different life? Some experts say these could be warning signs of a midlife crisis:
- A decrease in weight, a new obsession with exercise and physical appearance.
- Unhappiness with life and lifestyle that previously made him or her happy.
- Boredom with people and things that may have previously been of interest.
- Feeling a need for adventure and change.
- Questioning the choices and decisions he or she has made in life.
- Confusion about who he or she is and where his or her life is headed.
- Anger at his or her spouse and placing blame for feeling tied down.
- Unable to make decisions about where he or she wants to go in life.
- Doubt over ever loving his or her spouse and resentment over the marriage.
- A desire for a new and passionate, intimate relationship.
- A sense of remorse for goals not accomplished.
- Frequent daydreaming or feelings of nostalgia.
- Acting on compulsions with food, drugs or alcohol.
- Greatly increased or decreased sexual desire.
- Sexual affairs, especially with someone much younger.
- A desire to achieve a feeling of youthfulness.
- Greatly increased or decreased ambition.
The male midlife crisis lasts between three and ten years, whereas women will only suffer the crisis for two and five years. Typical signs include looking up ex-partners on Facebook, taking vitamin pills and taking out a direct debit for a charity. Not being able to sleep because of work worries, reading obituaries regularly in the newspaper and taking up a new hobby are also indicators of the crisis. People in a midlife crisis fret over their hair thinning and dye it to cover grey hairs. Men are less embarrassed to seek a transplant to combat baldness.
What does a female midlife crisis look like? Is it an addiction to Botox and plastic surgery in an attempt to turn back time? Less acute symptoms may be boredom, a feeling of worthlessness, loneliness and lack of meaning, depression and anxiety. Or drinking too much, repeatedly changing jobs or partners, or obsessively shopping but never quite finding the satisfaction you are looking for. It could be triggered by divorce, a serious illness, redundancy, an empty nest, the loss of a parent. Or it can just occur out of the blue.
As people get older, they worry increasingly about their appearance and want to recapture their youth. They are far less shy about making quite radical changes to their appearance as they get older.They worry about losing their jobs and know that a more youthful appearance will make their more attractive not just to the opposite sex but employers as well.
No matter how much we compete with each other or how hard we try, we're all just the same. We can control nothing. We don't know what tomorrow will bring. It is a pretty major breakdown of all of our beliefs and assumptions. Biggest of all is the realisation we're all heading in the same direction, on a one-way ticket.
A midlife crisis is undeniably painful and can be destructive, but it can also serve as a vital wake-up call, particularly for women. According to research, the most profound difference in attitude between men and women going through middle age is that women are twice as likely to be hopeful about the future.
One of the most powerful shocks of midlife is the collapse of our tacit agreement with the universe. We grow up assuming that if we follow the rules, do as we're told, are of good heart, then everything will work out and we'll all live happily ever after.
Most people manage to work their way through a midlife crisis without too much trouble, but others struggle to find balance in their life again. The concept of the “passing of youth” pertains to millions of people struggling with these feelings on a daily basis. Any time we have a crisis, it's a moment of change. We need to learn to work with that change and embrace it. In doing so, we may find our passion and live happier, more fulfilling and less materialistic lives. It may not feel like it at the time, but a midlife crisis can be an unexpected gift.
References- http://www.bodyandsoul.com.au (Female Midlife Crisis)
Midlife Crisis- From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Men at Midlife - From Lifewise Jul-Aug 2015 Issue No.58