Some people seem to pass through midlife without a second thought but for others reaching middle age can lead to depression, anxiety, and questions about life that you may not have considered before. Perhaps you’re reaching middle age now and the midlife crisis signs are starting to show. But how can you tell if what you are dealing with is actually a midlife crisis or something else? Fortunately, there are symptoms which are indicative of a midlife crisis which can help you determine if that is what you are actually experiencing. Here are 10 midlife crisis signs to help you decide if a midlife crisis is in fact what you are going through. There are also helpful ways to combat these symptoms to help foster a healthy transition into middle age.
Warning Signs You Are Going Through A Midlife Crisis
1. Comparing Yourself with Others
In today’s culture, it is easy to focus on the things we don’t have. We may have a sibling we believe is more attractive or has a more successful life or a coworker who has a better house, car or cell phone. We are bombarded with advertisements about how to look more attractive, pursue a better career or afford a better car. We all have a tendency to compare our lives to the lives of others. But when you enter middle age you may begin to find yourself doing this more often. You’ll start to think of yourself as less successful or less attractive which can lead to depression. If you find yourself feeling this way, here are a few things you can do to proactively moderate these thoughts:
- Remind yourself that other peoples’ outside life cannot be compared to your inside thoughts and feelings.
- Be grateful for the good in your life. Think about the things you have that make you happy.
- Recognize your triggers and do your best to avoid them.
2. Worrying About Where Your Life is Going
Middle age is generally a time for reflection whether it be positive or negative. We all tend to look back on the first half of our lives in one way or another. One of the obvious midlife crisis signs, however, is worrying about where your life is going. Many people in middle age tend to start looking back on their life to think about where they’ve been and perhaps change course as to where they are going. If you find yourself thinking that you are not happy with the direction that your life is going, try thinking about what makes you happy and work on choosing a path rather than heading in the same direction you’ve been going.
3. Questioning the Meaning of Life
While questioning the meaning of life can happen at many stages in your life, it can be most debilitating during middle age. You may begin to wonder what the point of life is and why you are here. This can lead to existential depression and worry about if you are getting it right. The good news is that there is no right way to live life and every new day is an opportunity for change. If you find yourself worrying about why you are here there are steps you can take to change how you feel. Instead of over-worrying about what your purpose is in life, make a purpose for yourself and take actions to start living in a way that makes you happier.
4. Hyper Focused on Your Appearance
Perhaps the quintessential symptom of a midlife crisis is paying an excessive amount of attention to your personal appearance. Middle age is when you start to notice your body changing; maybe you are gaining weight or your hair is graying. Perhaps you’ve noticed that you aren’t as energetic as you used to feel and there is a general lethargy that comes with your body aging. Many people entering the middle of their lives begin to worry more about their appearance. From getting hair plugs and plastic surgery to dyeing your hair and buying new clothes, putting more emphasis on your outward appearance can be normal. But it can also be a symptom of something deeper that you may want to explore. Try a new diet and exercise regimen to help your body feel better physically and you will start to feel more confident about how you look.
5. Increased Interest in Health Issues
It is not uncommon to worry about potential health issues, but a person entering middle age may begin to do so more often. They may want to visit a doctor at the slightest health concern like a cold and constantly worry about whether they will develop more serious health issues in the near future. Unfortunately, this excessive worry can actually cause health issues like digestive disorders, muscle tension, and even a heart attack. The best way to ease the stress about health concerns is to relay them to your doctor and come up with a schedule for routine check-ups (usually once a year). Your doctor will be able to calm any anxiety about potential health issues and warn you early if any signs of health issues do arise.
6. Experiencing Feelings of Regret
When you look back on your life it is easy to think about the things you could’ve done differently. Many of us wonder if we chose the right major in college or started in on the right career path. We start to wonder if the love is gone in our long marriages and if things would’ve happened differently if we took a different path in life. These introspective moments can lead to feelings of regret which can cause general unhappiness in our lives. While these feelings of regret are not entirely uncommon, it can lead to depression. Unfortunately, this can keep you ruminating on the past and the things you should’ve done. The good news is that you can learn from these experiences and this feeling of regret. Now is a good time to assess the things that you may regret from your past and make changes in the present to prevent any future regrets in life.
7. Feeling Tied Down
You made a lot of decisions in your past when you were younger and more carefree. Some of the decisions you made when you were younger could lead to you feeling tied down in middle age. You can feel tied down to a mortgage, a relationship, loans, or relationships. You can also feel tied down in a career path that you may feel is going nowhere. This feeling of being tied down can lead to extreme consequences and a feeling of wanting to leave. Remember, nothing is permanent and anything can be changed.
8. Thinking About a Career Change
Combined with many of these symptoms is feeling stuck in your career. It could be a regretful decision that you made in your past, or you could’ve been happy with your career for years and you are just now starting to feel unsatisfied with your path in your job. You can start by learning a new skill or going back to school. Either you can move to a different career path in your industry or work on trying something completely new. The change could help shift you out of a feeling of being stuck and open your eyes to new possibilities.
9. Having an Affair
Along the same vein of worrying about where your life is going and focusing more on your appearance is the possibility of having an affair. People in middle age may be bored with their marriage of many years and find themselves seeking validation from another romantic partner. If you feel stuck in a marriage or just want to know that there are other people out there who still find you attractive, you may turn to having an affair on your spouse or long term partner. This can cause stress in your current, long-term romantic relationship which can take a bad turn down the line. Although other relationships may be healthier if you have a failing marriage, having an affair is never the right answer for any party involved. Talk with your spouse about your feelings and if you feel it is very necessary to meet someone new, be sure that your partner understands your feelings and intentions ahead of time. This can help to avoid any future discomfort or arguments.
10. Feeling Frustrated and Blaming Others
There is a certain dissatisfaction that accompanies a midlife crisis which can lead to feelings of frustration. You may find yourself placing blame on others for how unhappy you feel in your life. It is not uncommon for this depression and frustration to manifest itself in anger and blame towards others, but this can lead to a strain in your relationships with friends, family, and your spouse. The strain will lead to greater dissatisfaction which will only exacerbate the cycle of frustration. Instead of taking your frustration out on your loved ones, ask yourself what you should be doing to change this dissatisfaction with your life. Pay attention to your moods and take a break if you find yourself feeling unnecessarily frustrated with a person or situation.
These midlife crisis signs can help you figure out if the emotions you are feeling and actions you are taking are, in fact, part of a midlife crisis. If you are reaching middle age and are starting to recognize these symptoms there are steps you can take to help shake you out of these feelings.
You may want to make some changes to your life but just don’t know where to start.