The Midlife Crisis is REAL! Stress at work and life peaks in your 40s and 50s, study concludes
- Scientists discover that the midlife crisis can be observed in population health data
- Experts looked at data on depression, stress and insomnia from rich countries
- Workplace stress was found to peak when people reached the age of 45
- People aged between 40 and 50 were also twice as likely to be depressed
- And kids aren’t to blame, with no evidence that parenthood affects a midlife crisis
There may be a good reason to buy that sports car of your forties or fifties.
Researchers now say the “midlife crisis” is real, after observing the infamous collapse of a data set on thousands of people in every age group.
Work stress peaked around 45, with people feeling “overwhelmed in their workplace.”
Rates of insomnia, headaches, anxiety and depression also all rose as people reached the dreaded milestone of middle age.
It led scientists to say that “something basic seems to be going wrong in the middle of the lives of many of our citizens.”
In what the scientists called a “disturbing paradox,” these feelings occur at the same time people should theoretically be happiest, with salaries peaking and few health problems.
The midlife crisis is real, people in their 40s and 50s were found to be going through the most difficult period of their lives, despite their peak income
WHAT IS A MID CRISIS?
The term “midlife crisis” was coined in 1965 by Elliot Jacques, a Canadian psychoanalyst, to describe challenges during the normal period of transition and introspection experienced by many adults aged 40 to 60.
During these years, adults often wonder who they are in this world and in their lives, what their purpose is and how they have used their time thus far.
These questions can be triggered by the awareness of the passage of time or changes that can occur with the physical body, such as fear of health or a decreased ability to perform physical tasks.
The emotions evoked by these questions and changes can cause you discomfort, stress, confusion and make you feel like you are in crisis.
Occasionally, midlife transitions can cause depression.
Despite this stress, you may experience this time as the beginning of a new and exciting phase of life.
The authors, a mixture of British, American and Singaporean economists, said the phenomenon may be due in part to people feeling they have failed to achieve key life goals.
They rejected ideas that children were to blame, with data showing that both parents and childless adults in their 40s and 50s experience a similar middle-age slump.
In the study, published by the National Bureau of Economic Researchthe scientists collected data from thousands of people in countries such as the UK, the US and Australia.
Health and wellness data was collected over several decades.
They found a “hump-like” pattern across all risk factors, with people in their 40s and 50s more likely to report mental health pressures and unhappiness than their younger or older counterparts.
Midlife is a time when people are disproportionately committing suicide, have trouble sleeping, are clinically depressed…have trouble concentrating, forget things, feel overwhelmed in their workplace, suffer from debilitating headaches and become dependent on alcohol ,’ the authors said.
This is despite the fact that statistically these people should enjoy the highest income of their lives, coupled with the lack of health problems from aging.
“There seems to be something fundamentally wrong in the lives of many of our citizens,” they said.
Middle-aged people were found to be twice as likely to suffer from depression as those over 60 and those under 25.
The risk of suicide was found to peak around the early 1950s, although the authors noted that this was slightly earlier for women than for men.
Hospital admissions for sleep disorders peaked in the 1950s, and middle-aged people reported the lowest number of hours of sleep per night, even for those without children.
Another study of 18,000 adults found reports of debilitating headaches, an indicator of depression and anxiety, which also peaked in middle age.
The authors don’t go so far as to say what causes or causes the midlife crisis, but say that “much remains to be understood” about the psychological phenomenon.
Some previous research has indicated that chimpanzees and orangutans suffer from a form of ‘midlife psychological low’, which could indicate that there is a biological trigger for a midlife crisis in primates.
But other studies do offer some hope that the low phase of the midlife crisis will pass.
A 2020 study found that, after a decline in middle age, happiness creeps back up as we age, with people over 70 being just as happy as someone in their 20s.
The term “midlife crisis” was coined in 1965 by Elliott Jaques, a Canadian psychoanalyst, to describe the moment when a person painfully accepts the certainty of mortality.