What is midlife?
Midlife is generally considered the central period of a person’s life, spanning from late thirties through early sixties.
But, you’re probably not here for a chronology lesson — in practice, midlife can be a stressful time as you grapple with age, mortality, and understanding a sense of purpose in your life. Psychologist Elliot Jaques first wrote about what was named the “midlife crisis” in 1965 in reference to a time when people address their mortality, productivity, and purpose.
What might this mean for you? By midlife, you may recognize that you’ve spent years thinking of yourself as a certain kind of person — maybe you’re brazen or soft-spoken, optimistic or pessimistic, analytical or creative… in short, you’ve established your identity.
Thanks in large part to modern medicine, we can usually expect to live for many decades beyond midlife; with this shift, people in this stage may find themselves re-evaluating their roles, careers, and relationships. It is important to understand how your midlife is an important stage of development; it subsequently presents its own unique challenges.
What is a midlife crisis?
During midlife, recall that adults may take on new job responsibilities, relationship shifts, and role adjustments. In conjunction with this, some individuals during this time may develop conditions such as depression and anxiety. Ultimately, any transition can spur a crisis of identity; and midlife shifts are certainly no exception.
Symptoms of a midlife crisis are often consistent with those of an adjustment disorder. People experiencing adjustment disorders may face tremendous stress in response to a life event. For people enduring a midlife crisis, the experience is very real. Dialing in further — women in particular experience menopause [link to women’s issues page]; during this time you may be particularly vulnerable to some of these challenges.
However, we recognize that despite these challenges, this transition provides the opportunity to evaluate past goals and achievements as you move into the next stages of life.
How can therapy help with a midlife crisis?
Therapy can help people turn a midlife crisis into an opportunity for growth and generativity. A good fit therapist can offer advice for how to deal with a midlife crisis, therefore helping you face a midlife crisis through understanding the roots of the crisis, gaining control over your emotions, and taking meaningful steps toward goals that make life feel meaningful. It’s not too late for women to reap the benefits of change by seeking the help they need to gain greater satisfaction in their lives.