When most people think of mid-life crisis, they think usually, but not always, of men. They think red sports car, getting freaky with younger partners, maybe marrying one and starting a new family. Sure, that happens but many mid-life crises for all genders are not so obvious. Depression, anxiety, and psychological distress are more common in midlife. A mid-life crisis results from events that highlight aging, mortality, and a lack of accomplishments. Signs of a midlife crisis can include boredom, exhaustion, discontentment, and self-questioning. It’s not always obvious what events may trigger a M.L.C.  but there are some realities that exist for most of us.

Obviously, we are not all dealing with the same things but varied ones.  There are ways in which mid-life is not unlike other times where we were figuring out who we want to be, how we want to show up, and who we are now. It’s a transition like going from being a younger child to a teen, from a young person with their whole lives ahead of them to a parent who has to put their children first, perhaps or at least someone with a lot more responsibility. Middle age is the time when we start looking back as much as we look forward, sometimes more. How do we feel when we look back? That depends but no matter what there are many choices that can’t be undone, good ones and ones we regret. If it’s predominantly regret, we get depressed. If it’s primarily satisfaction, we feel…well, satisfied. Wait, you might think, it’s not so simple! I’m glad I have my kids but it just impacted my career in ways I wish it hadn’t. Or if I hadn’t married my ex, I wouldn’t have my kids so I guess I don’t regret marrying my ex? Hmmm.  How about “I have always been glad I didn’t have kids because look at all the traveling and adventure I have had. I’m still having some! Still, my family of origin is dead and gone and the holidays feel lonesome.

I’m at the peak of my career! But when do I relax? My career is on the decline, I should have achieved more! How do I determine my self-worth now?  What do I want now? What’s possible for me, have I assumed some things are that really are not?   There is lots to think and wonder about. Taking action can be harder and having support can make a significant difference. And let us not forget that many of us are dealing with elderly parents, children (often teens!) and hormone changes.

What’s most helpful in middle age is to embrace change and to re-find purpose.  that can make or break middle age.  Life, as we age, is easier if we prioritize ourselves to the degree that we regularly exercise and eat healthily. Putting energy into friendships and romantic partnerships is worthwhile and important. We need connection. Finding hope can be challenging these days but it’s possible. These tenets are our guidelines to a satisfying middle age.