Am I Having a Mid-Life Crisis?


Many clients come in asking a common question: Am I having a mid-life crisis?

Interestingly, many of the clients who are asking this aren’t even mid-way through their lives—which has promoted a tongue-in-check trend of referring to a “quarter-life crisis” or even “third-life crisis.” What do these terms mean, and how can you tell when you need help? Read on to find out some answers from Dr. Steve Lazarus, a psychologist in Littleton.

What is a mid-life crisis?

A mid-life crisis is not a formal diagnosis—just like the “terrible twos” or “irresponsible twentysomething” phases that people tend to go through, a “mid-life crisis” is a pop psychology concept that has been embraced and promoted in the media, showing people in their 40s and 50s rejecting their “boring, adult lives” and engaging in activities such as buying new sports car, ditching the spouse for a younger paramour, or going on a months-long road trip—all while ignoring the daily routine of bills, healthcare, and responsibility. For some, a little fun now and then is normal. For others, big and reckless decisions might signify a deeper crisis. Further, many people who feel like they are having a mid-life crisis report that they are concerned about their own aging, mortality, health, and future. They may feel bored, restless, careless, or rushed to accomplish a “bucket list” of events.

So, am I in a crisis at all?

If you’ve carefully budgeted, expanded your garage, and pre-purchased insurance for your new sports car, you’re probably doing all right. However, if you feel like nothing matters, if you are spending beyond your earnings, or if your new activities in life are alienating friends and family, these are all signs that something is wrong. While it is okay, and even healthy to have fun, when your “fun” starts taking a toll on the other areas of your life, it’s time to re-evaluate.

How can a state of crisis affect my life and relationships?

Most often, by the time people show up in a therapist’s office, they are truly in a state of crisis. They might confess that their spouse no longer wants to engage in intimate activities, or that their kids are avoiding them. Some have even lost jobs. After the initial excitement, many people find themselves “crashing” and regretting their decisions, leaving them with feelings of depression, anxiety, and regret. Many seek counseling in Highlands Ranch, couples therapy, or other help from professionals.

What can I do to feel better?

The upside to a midlife (or quarter-life, or existential) crisis is that it lets you know that something is wrong. Maybe you never bothered to have fun as an adult, so you’ve made up for twenty years of unflinching responsibility with a month of irresponsible partying. Maybe you and your spouse have grown apart, and you finally had the motivation to make a change. Explore the reasons why you needed these drastic changes in your life to find insight into what you might want to change in the long-term. Of course, if you are feeling depressed, anxious, or just don’t understand what is going on, consider seeking help from a professional. Dr. Lazarus has helped many people navigate their or their spouse’s mid-life crisis, coming out stronger on the other side. To set up an appointment, call 303-267-2194.

Categories: Relationships and Marriage