What Is A Mid Life Crisis: What You Need To Know

By Michael Arangua

Updated January 02, 2019

Reviewer Tanya Harell

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Many people understand the basic idea of a midlife crisis. You may imagine the middle-aged man revving up his Harley in an attempt to feel young again. You may imagine someone depressed because they never accomplished everything they wanted to, and they want to accomplish everything before they are too old to do so. In this article, we'll go into more detail about the mid-life crisis phenomenon and what it can mean for you once you face it, or if you're facing it right now.

What Is Mid-Life Crisis?

The mid-life crisis is when one has a feeling of regret, remorse, or anxiety over their mortality. This usually happens during middle-age. At this point, your life is around halfway over, and you start to realize this. You may want to accomplish as much as you can and wrong all the rights you can before it is too late.


The mid-life crisis term was coined in the 1960s by Elliot Jacques, a Canadian scientist. He was creating a time-frame of people's lives, and he used this too for employee reasons. He discovered there was a certain point in one's life where one may face a crisis, and that usually happens during middle-age.

When Does It Occur?

There is no magic age where mid-life crises occur. You don't hit 40 and magically get a mid-life crisis, but it can happen at any point during middle-age. The range it occurs tends to be around the mid-40s to the mid-60s, which is around the phase of middle adulthood.

It's said that mid-life crises occur differently between the sexes. A man may have a much longer mid-life crisis than a woman. A man's mid-life crisis may last up to 10 years, while a woman typically last five years at the most.

Also, women may have their mid-life crisis younger than men, despite living longer on average. Some may have it as young as their 30s. At that age, you're still fertile, but your biological clock is ticking, and this may lead to the feeling of crisis many women have.


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Various reasons can cause your mid-life crisis. Here are a few of them.

  • Aging. Perhaps the best-known cause. An adult is hitting middle-age, and their looks are starting to fade, along with their stamina, mental strength, and other functions. The realization of one's mortality will create a mid-life crisis, and the person wants to accomplish as much as they can before it's too late.
  • Your job. By middle-age, you probably have a well-established career. But if you aren't satisfied with your job, you may start to fret. You may look for a new job or try to climb the corporate ladder faster. If you're 45, you still have around 20 years of work left in you, so why not spend it doing something you love? In fact, for men, this is one of the big reasons for their midlife crisis.
  • There may be relationship problems too. If you're married to someone you may not love all the way, there may be marital problems. You may want to cheat on your spouse for a younger woman, or it may lead to a divorce.
  • If you have children, they are more than likely matured at this point, and you may have a crisis over that. Alternatively, if you never had children, you may feel upset that you didn't, and you may try to have children before it's too late.

The Stereotypes Of Mid-Life Crises

When you think of the mid-life crisis, you probably have a few stereotypes in your mind. One such stereotype is the man buying something expensive to make them feel better. They may buy an expensive car, and this makes them feel strong. Owning something new and shiny makes them feel young. They may get a motorcycle and travel with a bike gang. This not only makes the man feel young, but it lets them explore the world.

The man may also want to have relationships with younger women. It's an instinct for a man to be together with a woman who is fertile.

What about a woman? Most women do not buy expensive items or have sex with younger men (although, there are exceptions for sure,) but instead they may have an identity crisis. Their role as a mother, wife, or woman, in general, may come into question. They may want to take on different roles before they get too old.

Symptoms Of Mid-Life Crises

Other symptoms of someone's mid-life crisis include:

  • Those who have a mid-life crisis may feel regrets for the past and goals that they have not met yet. There may be a sudden rush to accomplish as much as they can before they get too old.

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  • They may see friends or family members who have it better off than they do. Maybe their job is better, or their family appears to be more functional. At any age, envy is going to happen, but it intensifies around middle-age.
  • Wanting to feel youthful again. There may be a push to get into shape or buy items to make them look young. It's not uncommon for people to have surgeries to make them look younger.
  • They may have heightened It may be due to the regret of not having enough sexual partners, or them wanting to reproduce before it's too late. However, some people experience less sex drive. One stereotype of a couple with a mid-life crisis is them wanting to "spice things up" in bed.
  • They may want to spend more time with friends. One regret of a mid-life crisis is not spending enough time with certain people, and they want to have fun with them before they're too old. On the other hand, those who have spent a lot of time with their friends may want to be alone.
  • Those who have mid-life crises may feel more emotional. They may be depressed, angry, or regretful towards their lives.
  • People with mid-life crises may want to travel more. They regret not exploring the world, and it's not uncommon for them to book a flight to another country. This may also be due to having more money than they did when they were youthful.
  • There is a rush to make things right. Be it resolving old grudges, trying to get the job of your dreams, or accomplish your goals as fast as you can.
  • There is an overall crisis of identity. Those who have the midlife crisis may wonder what their place in this world is. Have they fulfilled their identity? Has it even been realized fully? Mid-life crises may deal with someone rushing to find their identity.

When you boil it all down, the theme of the mid-life crisis is regret. Life is short, and you cannot possibly accomplish everything you want to before you leave. We are all going to regret something, and the mid-life crisis is the drive that makes us want to make things right. Sometimes, it's the push we need to tie up as many loose ends as possible. Other times, it'll lead to a fruitless goose chase that can lead to more depression or the loss of your marriage or job.


People treat their mid-life crises by accomplishing everything they want to. However, there is also a way to prevent or treat mid-life crises without having to resort to drastic measures. Exercise and a good diet can help your appearance stay youthful and keep your health up, which can help you prevent having a health crisis that severe.

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Is It Even Real?

There has been a debate as to whether or not all adults go through a mid-life crisis, or if the phenomenon is as big as the world portrays it to be. Is it something that happens naturally, or something constructed by society itself?

It is hard to say, and the mid-life crisis phenomenon has been scrutinized. There have been many studies that had discovered that middle-aged people are happier than they were when they were younger. It's a period where one starts to reflect on one's life, and this can be a positive thing.

There is no doubt that some people do experience a crisis when they reach middle-age, but it may be overblown.

Seek Help!

Those who suffer from a mid-life crisis may have many questions about how they can cope with it. Before you do anything too irrational, know that there is no shame in seeking therapy if you want to cope with your mid-life crisis. A counselor can help keep your marriage fulfilled, and if you have any goals you want to accomplish, they can help you come up with a plan instead of rushing into it without knowing what you're doing.

It is possible to have middle adulthood that is fulfilling, and by taking the right steps, your mid-life won't be just a crisis

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