What Are the Signs of a Male Midlife Crisis?

Reviewed on 6/9/2021
male midlife crisis
What are the warning signs of a male midlife crisis? Here’s how to recognize one and how to cope with it

While a midlife crisis is not an official medical diagnosis, it is a common phase among middle-aged people (typically over age 45) that can cause emotional upheaval in their lives as they come to terms with aging

Many men measure their worth in terms of their professional success. So a midlife crisis in men may be centered around their achievements, or around regret about not taking actions to better their careers when they were younger.

Signs that point towards male midlife crisis include:

  • Feelings of dissatisfaction with career, marriage, or health
  • Feeling the pressing need to make major changes in life because time is short
  • Loss of stamina
  • Restlessness about changes in appearance
  • Making unusual choices, such as starting an affair or a sudden desire for excitement or thrilling experiences

Oftentimes these feelings begin at age 40-50 and are triggered by major life events, such as becoming a grandfather for the first time or mourning the death of a friend or loved one.

Can a midlife crisis become depression?

A midlife crisis can turn into serious depression, which can be recognized by signs such as:

  • Changes in eating habits
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyable
  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Restlessness
  • Getting irritated easily
  • Feeling of loneliness
  • Feeling guilty unreasonably
  • Thoughts of suicide

How do you cope with a midlife crisis?

A midlife crisis can propel men toward both good and bad behaviors. For example, a man who thinks he should learn new things before it’s too late may make him feel energetic and have a newfound appreciation for life. On the other hand, another man may make rash decisions or spend all his savings on a luxurious sports car.

If you find yourself suddenly feeling suddenly low in your middle age, you can take the following steps to cope with the negativity:

  • Don’t let destructive feelings take over. Try to control your emotions and don’t give in to them. Before taking action based on your feelings, take a moment to think it over, and be mindful of the consequences.
  • Maintain a grateful attitude. Think about the good things in your life and be thankful that you have them.
  • Open up to someone. If you’re thinking about taking a major step in your life, talk it over to someone you trust, whether it’s a friend or a therapist, and get a second opinion. You may be dealing with an underlying mental health issue that is masquerading as a midlife crisis, and a mental health professional can equip you with techniques to deal with it. 

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and counseling. If you or someone you know are in immediate danger, call 911.

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References
Robinson OC, Demetre JC, Litman JA. Adult Life Stage and Crisis as Predictors of Curiosity and Authenticity: Testing Inferences From Erikson’s Lifespan Theory. Inter J Behavioral Dev. 2017;41(3):426-31. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0165025416645201

Metcalf E. Midlife Crisis: Transition or Depression? WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/depression/features/midlife-crisis-opportunity

Metcalf E. How to Get Out of a Midlife Crisis. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/men/features/mens-midlife-crisis

Freund AM, Ritter JO. Midlife Crisis: A Debate. Gerontology. 2009;55(5):582-91. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19571526/

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