Midlife Crisis Counseling in San Antonio
The pandemic forced virtually all of us at all levels to reconsider where we work. This disruption to our professional lives combined with numerous other changes we’ve had to make has placed many of us in an unfamiliar, uncertain world, and unclear of our role in it. The pandemic indeed accelerated and surfaced all the standard characteristics of the kind of identity crisis generally linked with middle age.
With the onset of older age, it’s only natural and human to question your identity (who am I?) and life trajectory (where am I going?).
Also noteworthy is how the pandemic triggered what therapists refer to as a counterfactual type of thinking, or “if-only” thoughts. These “what might have been” thoughts are triggered by breaks in normal routines as we ponder alternative realities. Counterfactual thinking is helpful in connecting the dots of our lives bringing meaning — or its absence — into focus. The Covid pandemic has been a turning point leading many of us to reflect on where we’ve been, where we are today, and where we are heading. As you learn all about
What is a MidLife Crisis?
Midlife covers the central years of a person’s life, extending generally from the ages of 40 – 65. These can be stressful years, as many people begin to feel frustrated and discontented as they struggle with aging and holding onto a sense of purpose. The term ‘midlife crisis’ refers to a stage of transition for people in or approaching middle age and transitional periods of time always require some emotional adjustment. A combination of realizing that they’re at their half-way point in life coupled with ‘substantial life change’ such as a marriage ending, a child leaving home, or a parent dying – is commonly what triggers a ‘midlife crisis”. This can be compounded by a sense of missed opportunities, unrealized ambitions, and no longer attainable dreams – leaving many feeling regret and despair.
In personal reflections at the midlife, men tend to focus on their achievements and a desire to prove their success to others, while women concentrate more on their physical appearance, sexual attraction and empty nest issues when children are on their own. However for both men and women, a midlife crisis commonly occurs when a person becomes so unhappy with their identity and life that they believe happiness can only be found through extreme, life-altering changes to themselves and or their circumstances.
A midlife crisis can hit anyone regardless of their background or ethnicity. While it can be overwhelming to cope with a midlife crisis there can also be unanticipated positive consequences and psychological growth. Through midlife crisis counseling you can gain a stronger sense of self and make more thoughtful decisions about the next phase of your life.
What are the Symptoms of a MidLife Crisis?
Because it’s not a disease, a midlife crisis does not have a set list of symptoms all people experience. Instead, general feelings of stress, frustration or anxiety related specifically to aging and mortality characterize a mid-life crisis. Occasionally, in effort to stave off these feelings people find themselves having an affair, buying a fancy car, using drugs or alcohol, or otherwise seeking to recapture the exhilaration of youth. Those experiencing or at risk of having a midlife crisis may reflect the following behaviors and emotions:
- Dissatisfaction with relationships. A person may seek to restructure the terms and understanding of their relationship, lose all interest in sex, or dramatically shift their sexual interests.
- Obsessed with self appearance. A person might “dress younger”, excessively exercise, or in an attempt to reverse the signs of aging seek procedures or excessively use cosmetics.
- Dissatisfaction with their job. A person experiencing a midlife crisis might seek to escape responsibilities at work – or feel resentful and envious of younger coworkers, especially those seemingly advancing up the ladder.
- Emotional distress. Feeling empty or down for extended periods of time, being short-tempered or quick to become angry, questioning religious beliefs, behaving in a reckless manner, or abusing drugs and alcohol.
(It should be noted these symptoms don’t necessarily mean a person is experiencing a midlife crisis. The symptoms of a midlife crisis can mirror symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders).
What are the Causes of a Midlife crisis?
Simply put, a midlife crisis is the result of feeling unhappy and discontent with the realization that life is moving on. The reasons underlying these feelings can vary widely and be triggered by numerous contributing factors, the more common being:
- Sharp awareness of aging its physical symptoms
- Health complications
- Feeling anxiety and stress about finances connected to retirement
- Feeling goals and ambitions haven’t been realized
- Questioning decisions of the past
- Stress from caring for a parent
- A loved one’s death
- Job loss or disinterest with work coupled with feeling career options are limited due to age
- Empty nest issues with children leaving the home
- Culture’s perspective on aging, the notion that elders and middle-aged people are less attractive.
- Physical body changes, such as pain, weight gain, or less energy.
- Fear and worry of the aging process itself.
- Divorce, separation, or other relationship changes.
- Grappling with previous trauma from an earlier stage in life.
The Implications of a Midlife Crisis
- The negative feelings and stress a midlife crisis brings can spur irrational decision making involving relationships, purchases, and career transitions – generating a new set of stresses to the situation.
- Any existing measure of depression can worsen and lead to anxiety disorders or even suicidal thoughts.
- Some experiencing a midlife crisis are susceptible to addiction (alcohol), which brings a new set of negative consequences to their physical health.
- Relationships can become strained in every direction – to the point of a communications breakdown with family and friends.
Depression Versus a Midlife Crisis
Major depression, unlike a midlife crisis, isn’t linked to a particular stage in a person’s life. Depression is a disease that can victimize anyone at any moment in their life, regardless of their feelings of satisfaction or contentment with their life. While depression can indeed strike a person in midlife, depression is a disorder of the nervous system, involving the way in which the tissues and nerves of the brain communicate with each other, combined with the challenges brought about by a person’s unique environment.
A midlife crisis reflects goal-directed behavior and depression is not goal-directed behavior. For example, a person cannot become depressed by wanting to and trying to. Likewise, they cannot move beyond a depressive episode by force of will. A midlife crisis without co-occurring depression involves acting out and impulsive behavior rooted from a person’s wish to recapture lost youth or to make dramatic life changes without careful consideration.
A midlife crisis centers around a person’s questioning of their identity as they transition from young adulthood. Effectively resolving a midlife crisis reflects making peace with self and one’s life. While it’s important to make the distinction between depression and a midlife crisis, it’s also important to note this time in a person’s life, their midlife, is sometimes accompanied by depression. Thus it is important to be aware and realize if your midlife transition (crisis) is developing into depression.
Some signs that a midlife transition (crisis) may be rooted in depression are:
- Extreme change in eating habits
- Constantly fatigued and exhausted
- Change in sleeping patterns
- A feeling of hopelessness, guilt or worthlessness
- Irritable, restless or unexpected bouts of anger
- Thoughts or attempts of suicide
- Decrease or increase in desire and ambition
- Compulsion for alcohol or drugs
- Desire for a sexual affair
- Feeling overwhelmingly trapped by responsibilities, such as
financial, family and job
- Consistent desire to run away from responsibilities
- Doing things out of character that could lead to trouble
With a midlife crisis, a sense of loss, grief, or physical challenges coupled with sorrow about unreached goals and unrealized dreams – can produce depression. Know a healthy approach to feeling depressed during any moment of life is to reach out for help and support. Contact us if you feel you are experiencing depression.
Midlife Crisis Counseling in San Antonio
Rhapsody counseling can help you with mental wellness support during any stage of your life. However, a timely moment to receive a general wellness checkup is during your midlife years – a time when you yourself are evaluating your life. If you’re concerned about feeling you’ve missed out on goals or specific life experiences, that can produce moods and feelings of distress.
Counseling can be helpful in crafting a healthy way to make this important transitional period of your life easier. Because a midlife crisis can spur impulses and behavior inconsistent with your normal self, working with a counselor able to facilitate deeper understanding of the core issues can lead to more thoughtful decision-making.
Learning how to get out of a midlife crisis will depend on what made it become a “crisis” in the first place – the unique factors that brought it on. This is where we will unpack all possible issues. It’s not unusual for a midlife crisis to be the culmination of matters that have been percolating just below the surface for years if not decades. Issues such as marital problems, illness, or financial stress that can push people to their “crisis” breaking point. Further, the choices made during a midlife crisis can add to the situation and need resolving in order to move on, such as initiating a divorce or having an affair.
Contrary to popular belief, a midlife crisis doesn’t only surface with someone buying a new sports car or dressing much younger than their age. To the contrary, a midlife crisis can produce feelings of anxiety, depression, self-doubt, and other uncomfortable emotions within a person. If you are struggling with how to cope with your loss of identity, you deserve to get help, which is where seeing a one-on-one counselor at Rhapsody comes in. Each person’s transition into their 40s, 50s, and beyond, is unique, and we’re here to help you discover your own path. Rhapsody Counseling can help you sift through, sort out, and resolve the challenging issues you are facing during this transition in your life.
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Free Discovery Call to Talk with a Counselor
Take the first step in your wellness journey and book a free 10-20 minute discovery call with a Counselor. The Counselor will start off the call with a few questions to get to know you better, so they can make sure they’re qualified to meet your needs. This includes questions about why you’re considering counseling, how you’ve been feeling over the past few weeks, and your goals for counseling.
If possible, take a few minutes before the call to reflect on these topics, so you can have a clearer sense of your goals for counseling. But don’t worry, if you can’t verbalize the answer to any questions, our counselors know how to guide your thinking so you can figure out what to say and the Counselor will welcome you to ask questions about counseling and Rhapsody.