Are you suffering from a midlife crisis?

Posted by: Dr. Justin D'Arienzo, Psy.D., ABPP

Are you suffering from a midlife crisis? If you are, help is available with Dr. Justin D’Arienzo, Psychologist and Relationship Expert, or one of his qualified and experienced psychological associates at D’Arienzo Psychological Group. Are you suffering from a midlife crisis? was written by Brett Wallace, one of our UNF psychology student interns in Jacksonville, Florida.

The concept of a midlife crisis is a well known problem that seems to occur during, well, around the middle of someone’s life. The midlife crisis can be defined as ‘personal turmoil and sudden changes in personal goals and lifestyle’ (Collin, 1979). Many people associate death of a friend or family member as a cause. This is primarily due to the death causing a realization of mortality. This hypothetically causes a domino effect which leads to a drastic revaluation of an individual’s life and goal’s (Collin, 1979). Interestingly, men with a high level of stress due to a mid-life crisis tend to not view the present and the past as unfavorable (Hermans & Oles, 1999). They really only show concern for the future. No study like this was done with women so the results may or may not be generalized.

While usually associated with men, both genders tend to suffer from it. Researchers seem to have a mixed opinion on the prevalence of a midlife crisis (Robinson and Wright, 2013; Wethington, 2000; Freund & Ritter, 2008). Robinson and Wright (2013) reported that both genders are very likely to suffer from a crisis at certain points in their midlife, with women more likely experiencing it from age 40 to 49. Wethington (2000), conversely, showed in her study that only about 25% of people suffered from a midlife crisis, with both genders being equally likely. Also, the decades around 40-49 had the highest rate. So the research is inconclusive on when it happens and its prevalence. This being said, the source of the crisis does vary between the genders, though. Men’s crisis usually pertain to their job or career, while women’s crisis usually pertain to friends and family  (Robinson and Wright, 2013).

Hypothetically speaking the midlife crisis could explain why divorces tend to happen around or after the age of 35 (Altshuler, 2006). Iwanir and Ayal (1991) noted that one personal reason for choosing a divorce is an existential crisis and questioning of where the individual is in life. This sounds very similar to a midlife crisis. So while it can generally viewed as unpleasant and just a phase it may have negative consequences associated with it.


Altshuler, M. K. (2006). Age patterns in divorce. American Journal of Family Law, 20(2), 133-    137

Collins, A. (1979). ‘Mid-life crisis’ and its implications in Counseling. British Journal of     Guidance and Counseling, 7(2), 144-152

Freund, A. M., & Ritter, J. O. (2009). Midlife crisis: A debate. Gerontology, 55, 582-591

Hermans, H. J. M., & Oles, P. K. (1999). Midlife crisis in men: Affective organization of personal meanings. Human Relations, 52(11), 1403-1426

Iwanir, S. & Ayal, H. (1991). Midlife divorce initiation: From crisis to developmental transition.   Contemporary Family Therapy, 13(6), 609-623

Robinson, O. C., & Wright, R. T.(2013). The prevalence, types and perceived outcomes of crisis   episodes in early adulthood and midlife: A structured retrospective-autobiographical             study. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 37(5), 407-416

Wethington, E. (2000). Expecting stress: Americans and the “midlife crisis”. Motivation and          Emotion, 24(2), 85-103