Psyche logo

A Midlife Crisis Or A Midlife Panic?

by Leonora Watkins 11 days ago in advice

There's a difference and it's being a jerk.

A Midlife Crisis Or A Midlife Panic?
Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Say the words “midlife crisis” to yourself. What’s the image that pops into your mind? Is it a middle-aged man in a shiny red sports car that vaguely resembles a penis? Does he have a young wife with a huge rack? That’s the image that most people think of when they say those words.

There’s humor associated with the midlife crisis, but there’s literally nothing funny about them. They’re not fun for the person having one and they’re not fun for people close to that person.

What Is A Midlife Crisis?

Do they really exist? Or are they just a way for people to claim diminished responsibility for their actions? Are they a convenient excuse to act like a teenager again? According to the NHS, a male midlife crisis is a form of depression that can be treated by a G.P and therapist/counselor. Yet there is no mention of a female midlife crisis because apparently we just don’t have them?

The signs of a male midlife crisis, according to the NHS are as follows:

  • No enjoyment of things
  • Low moods
  • Mood swings
  • Tiredness and lack of energy
  • Lack of concentration
  • Increased sleep or lack of sleep (significant changes in sleep patterns)

All of these things are very serious signs of depression and should be dealt with as soon as possible. It doesn’t matter what gender you identify as, if you’re experiencing these symptoms then don’t wait to get help. Early intervention in mental health problems is crucial.

By Selwyn van Haaren on Unsplash

What Does Society Think of a Midlife Crisis?

Ask most people and they will tell you that the signs of a midlife crisis are:

  • Cheating with someone younger (male/female)
  • Buying a sports car (male)
  • Running a marathon (female)
  • Clubbing and trying to recapture lost youth (male/female)
  • Sudden obsession with fitness and appearance (male/female)
  • Increased sex drive (male/female)
  • Feelings of boredom (male/female)
  • Constant thoughts of cheating (male/female)
  • Sudden changes in behavior (male/female)
  • Comparing your life to others (female)
  • Feelings of nostalgia (female)
  • Feelings of regret (male/female)

And as common as these symptoms are, they are not the sign of a midlife crisis. They are signs of a midlife panic. Signs that someone is scared because they feel as though they haven't achieved everything they thought they would. So they begin to try and live out their fantasies despite their responsibilities. Midlife panic is not funny, it destroys families and leaves them ripped apart because of someone else's selfishness.

When we joke about the man having an affair with a younger woman, or the woman having an affair with the younger man, we forget that they had partners. They had families that have now been left to pick up the shattered pieces.

By Andrey Metelev on Unsplash

How to Deal With a Midlife Crisis

So what do we do if someone we know is having a midlife dilemma of any kind? It’s difficult because nobody is going to admit or even realize that they’re having a midlife crisis or panic.

If you think someone is having a genuine midlife crisis according to the definition above, then try to talk to them. They need your help even if they aren't yet ready to admit it. If you think someone is severely depressed and is at risk of harming themselves, then you need to speak to a medical professional and see what they can do for them.

A midlife panic is just as hard, if not harder to handle because there is nothing that you can really do about it. Telling them how selfish they’re being won’t help matters because all they’ll do is deny it.

You can't stop anyone from acting the way they want to act. You just have to try to figure out 3 things:

  • Why are they doing this?
  • When will it be over?
  • Do I still want to be there when it is?
  • If someone’s having a genuine midlife crisis then they need help. They’re struggling with their mental health and need your support. But if someone’s having a midlife panic, it doesn’t mean they’re allowed to treat you badly. Know your worth and what you’re not willing to tolerate.

    You Can Get Through a Crisis

    If you think you’re having a midlife crisis then you should speak to a G.P as soon as possible. They’ll put you in touch with people who can help you.

    If you think you might be having a midlife panic then stop for a minute. Think about all the good things in your life. Are they worth risking or throwing away to feel “young” again? Because that’s what you’ll be doing. Putting everything in your life at risk for a few years of nonsense until you come to your senses.

    Midlife crises and panics are difficult to deal with for those that are left to clear up the mess, But there are people out there going through the same problems as you. You can find plenty of help and support online. You are not alone and you never have to feel like you are.

    Leonora Watkins
    Leonora Watkins
    Read next: Never In the Cover of Night
    Leonora Watkins

    A qualified counsellor and an even more qualified queer. I specialise in victims of rape and sexual assault. I also have a degree in behaviour analysis.

    See all posts by Leonora Watkins

    Find us on socal media

    Miscellaneous links