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Midlife crisis: fact or fiction?
We joke about it – the time in life when you do outrageous, not age appropriate, things. Impulsive behavior and risk taking. Trade in the minivan for sports car and your spouse for a newer model.
Coincides with major life events
But midlife crisis is starting to lose its bad rep. Now often referred to as a midlife transition, it’s gaining awareness and acceptance. It remains a bit illusive however. It can be a time of deep depression, but also serious growth. Awareness regarding the vulnerability to depression seems to be key. When it occurs can depend on many factors including how long you expect to live. Usually it is triggered by a major life event like a child graduating from college or a birthday with a 0 at the end. Parental death can also bring it on.
Men and women are equally vulnerable, but go through the transition in different ways. Men seem to want to prove something in an outward way, thus the sports car. The want to look successful since professional performance is important to most men. If they have fallen short of their goals, they can still look successful with the symbol parked in the drive way. “Women often get validity through relationships,” said Dan Jones, PhD, director of the Counseling and Psychological Services Center at Appalachian State University. They are likely to evaluate their relationships at this point in their life.
It’s all normal
As people evaluate their lives they often create new goals. Many adults go back to school or start new businesses or charities. Men may want to explore more domestic duties like cooking and decorating. Women on the other hand often feel like they have had enough of the domestic and start to become more selfish, expecting others to take care of themselves.
When it turns to depression
For some, this period of evaluation can be painful. Watch for signs of depression which include change in eating and sleeping habits, feelings of pessimism, restlessness or anxiety, feelings of guilt, loss of interest in once-engaging activities and thoughts of suicide or self-harm. A strong partner can provide support through this time.
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