Male midlife crisis

The male midlife crisis is often made fun of, but for many men it is a distressing experience.

A male midlife crisis can happen when men think they've reached life's halfway stage. Anxieties over what they've accomplished so far, either in their job or personal life, can cause a period of depression. In men, this usually happens between the ages of 35 and 50, and can last for up to 10 years.

It's a controversial syndrome that health experts think is related to the brain or hormonal changes. While it may be a great source of jokes and amusement for some, for those affected it can be quite debilitating.

Dr Derek Milne, a clinical psychologist and author of the book "Coping with a Mid-life Crisis", says it's a poorly researched topic.

"What data we do have of a scientific kind are limited in terms of the quality and the surveys that exist," he says.

"Literature on the midlife crisis mostly comes out in book form by journalists rather than trained researchers. These are sketchy, descriptive accounts that wouldn't normally be published in a scientific journal.

'A time of growth'

When it comes to the midlife crisis, Dr Milne says everyone's circumstances are different.

"I would guess it affects a significantly small amount of the population. Somewhere around 20% of people (mostly men) will have gone through this by the time they're 50.

"My book is all about coping," he says, "and if I was giving advice on how to cope, I'd suggest telling your GP you're feeling depressed, because depression makes up a significant portion of the midlife crisis."

"I would, however, recommend that you see a psychologist or counsellor and have it treated as a psychological condition and not through medication."

Dr Milne says the important thing is to thrive. "Even if there are times when all you feel you can do is survive to the next day, the goal is thriving, and I believe that we do this best when we view our current crisis as a time of growth and personal change."

The best advice is to see your GP and get help. Depression can be triggered by a major life change, such as divorce, separation, long-term illness, bereavement or job loss. Sometimes there appears to be no obvious reason.

The point is, if you feel very low for more than a couple of weeks, it is vital that you go to your GP for help. You may be prescribed antidepressants or referred to a counsellor.

Ways to help avoid depression include taking regular exercise, which can ease tension and trigger brain chemicals that improve your mood (endorphins), eating well and sleeping well. Most of all, don't bottle up your feelings.


Depression is a serious illness. It is very different from the common experience of feeling unhappy, miserable or fed up for a short period of time. In this video, psychiatrist Dr Cosmo Hallstrom explains the disorder.

Media last reviewed: 18/06/2015

Next review due: 18/06/2017

Page last reviewed: 01/02/2014

Next review due: 01/02/2016


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The 14 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

enoughnow said on 10 February 2014

Having read some of the comments I guess I am having this 'midlife crisis' Its been a long time now since I really had the zest for life, I struggle to see the point of tomorrow. I sadly have planned my end sorting out my personal things hoping not to cause too many problems. Lack of money household bills etc are taking their toll some days are great most are not, I have considered stopping this chore of daily life on quite a few occasions. I just haven't had the courage. I don't sleep well I hardly eat but once a day, sometimes not even doing that. I haven't seen a doctor for twenty years or more, I don't really bother as I have never been that ill to have to or want to. The wife is sick and tired of me I guess she doesn't care as long as bills are paid. I do not drink alcohol but I do smoke. I have lost a brother a sister and both parents. I guess I am just tired of life and have no interest in tomorrow or next week of the future. I get through each day and hope tomorrow will be better. So far that's working...

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RicharM said on 14 January 2014

I am 55 years old and I hope my story can lessen the feeling of the readers in this article. I am very busy with my business for so many years and that haven't had a good sexual experience. Sexual activity is was just a traditional act on me that sometimes like its not necessary. Stress, depress, and over fatigue, the need is almost gone.However, the most desperate thing is at my age not yet married. Here comes, I met a girl, I really like her however I dont have the capability and not active in Sexual Activity anymore.

I really want to marry her but I dont want to end up divorce when I cannot fulfill her need. Lets face the fact, this is one of the crucial issues been denying by couples separation.

I talk to a doctor and he give me an advise on what to do and what to take. I am old to get married but I want to have a companion and interesting partner. Before I dont believe in taking supplements (sexual enhancer) but this might be my "Karma" that I am doing it right now.

I was maintaining for 3 months already, it really helps me a lot. I soon get married,,, so for you guys thinking negatively and very desperate in your case of Erectile dysfunction, common, try new things and open up your mind that everybody needs help and need something to enhance for the best.

Thanks for reading.

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Steuart2305 said on 21 August 2013

Its hard being a man, if you admit to a problem your weak, if you dont admit to it you should 'man up'. If you man up your a bully, if a woman 'mans up' she's assertive. Why do we wonder?

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bbj7883 said on 10 February 2013

i am 51 years old and have been out of work for over a year,i have diabetes and inject insulin daily, my partner 6 months ago decided that she needed to find herself and we split up, however we have got back together and parted so many times in the last 6 months worse than taylor and burton.i have lost about 3 1/2 stone in this period, suffer from erectile dysfunction something that was never a problem before. i have in general a very low opinion of myself knowing that i have to all intents and purposes lost my life, no partner, no job and no money to speak of.
i have attempted suicide twice in the last 4 months by overdosing and by cutting my wrists.
i went to the docs and got anti depressants which have only made me feel sick, i am susposed to start counselling shortly, and up until i watched the above video believed that it would be waste of time now i am prepared to give it a go.
so i guess you could say that i am in a major midlife crisis, something i had not considered before. so heres hoping that counselling will work.

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lady luck said on 03 August 2012

ive been reading these posts with interest as i believe my partner is suffering with midlife crisis, its helpful to know others are in a similar position. he is going counselling which we hope will help sort out the issues that have built up over the years.
all i can do for now is assure him how much i love him and that the past is the past and try and focus on the good things we have had for the past few years and ahead of us :(

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bikemad said on 27 June 2012

It has been very useful reading through these postings.
Just over one year ago I started becoming obsessed with past events mainly a job interview that I attended over tvelve years before. I scrutinised every single detail of that day thinking that if I had got the job life would have been so much easier. After months of struggling with the thoughts and after help from my GP i slowly got back to normal. At the time it felt like I was in a deep dark pit being tormented by old memories over and over again. Lack of sleep, no appetite, no interest in doing the things I like. When I did try to get involved in my hobbies again I just gave up thinking what's the point!
So, for the last year all has been well again up to last weekend. I watched the olympic torch relay being escorted by Police. This triggered it all over again. I applied for the Police force almost twenty years ago nearly getting in. My mind started to torment me again with thoughts like I would be retiring from the force in a few years with a pension, I would have enjoyed an exciting career, etc etc etc. When I think logicaly I realise that I am being stupid as I enjoyed my work during those years and now run a profitable business. But I just keep beating myself up thinking about the past and why I didnt do this or that. What was I thinking at the time.
I think it is a combination of loosing my father three years ago in particularly sad circumstances and I am now approaching 50.
I'll just have to snap out of it, but it's not easy!

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biker58 said on 09 January 2012

I also do not understand the stereotype which I find offensive and made a complaint to reflect this.

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NoCrisis said on 10 November 2011

What's with the stereotype? That could be me in the picture above (I even bought the same bike!).

I'm not having a mid-life crisis just because I bought my first motorbike at 51 and can't wait for my kids to leave home. It appears to be the automatic assumption people make.

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Driven_Pink said on 09 November 2010

So what is so special about a crisis mid-life? People have early life crisis, and late-life crisis but not special mention for them. Surely this is just part of life. For some people things happen between 40 and 60. Even the clinical sychologist, who is quoted in this article admits the "data we do have of a scientific kind is limited in terms of the quality" In other words there is no valid data to prove a mid life crisis exists past that of any any of lifes little problems.

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chrismascray said on 15 September 2009

Hi I am 51, started 'life' late, married at 30 and my two wonderful children are 10 and 5. I am just so fed up and have been now for some time. I never needed anyone to talk to as I had my wife, but I fear I have moaned and complained so much and worried so much about my health, I have health anxiety, so much that she is fed up and to be fair I cannot blame her. we had a rich and wonderful sex life and shared everything, thoughts hopes dreams and even fantasies, but now? well it seems to me she isnt interested, but it isnt about her, it is me, I am so depressed, I dont know what to do, I feel fat fifty and f....... I know you know what I mean, I used to be attractive, but now? well I just see my dada in the mirror and hear his voice when I speak, I hate it, I hate it so much, I miss the past and have no desire or hope for the future, money is tight, sex almost non existent, and my 'love for life' just about gone, BUT I am responsible for everything and every one, even you reading this, so I cant just walk away, I cant think of myself before my children, what the hell can I do? I love my wife and my children, we live in a home that I knew was wrong when I decided we would move here, BUT they all love it, I dont. The family is happy here but for me it means 7 days a week struggling to pay for it, and although my wife wouldnt agree I think, I do try and hide so many of my worries, I have lost the one person I could share everything with, I now trawl the internet looking for help and yes porn, but alone, I used to be able to share, she never liked porn but took and interest in me, if that makes sense, that is only an example my problems arent porn, they are me, OLD FAT BALD AND SO DEPRESSED. What can I do, who can I tell, who will be my friend as my wife was, what can I do.

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User236581 said on 17 April 2009

Hi ... Im a 41 yr old male who 'thinks' im going through a mid life crisis.
Im deffinatly struggling with many issues in my life - my job, the death of my father, my relationship, what ive achived and on and on......... the thing is when i look back at what ive done in life its been pretty good. Ive had lots of excitement and adventures that a lot of people would be more than satisfied with and friends and family say ive done ok BUT i dont think i have. I have this constant feeling i could have done more, been more successful, been 'a better person'. i often think its the lack of those forementioned adventures thats missing but most of them i couldn't do now anyway due to getting older, my health and the responsiblities to my kids and partner. Maybe i should just resign to the fact that im not what i used to be.......... see this is my problem; i cant resign that fact and when i try talking about it, like now i feel as if i just go round and round in circles. I feel i used to be someone but now im just part of the crowd... Ya know, i just don't know. Sorry for waffling on but i just need somewhere to get it off my chest, so to say.

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swift said on 16 August 2008

countrywife, what your husband is going through is very normal but he is in his own lost world at the moment and there is absolutely nothing you can do to help him through this, its his journey he must make it alone. please dont try to put things right for him he will only find something else to put in its place, the secret here is to take care of you while he is in this lost world, and vsit and join the forum you will find lots of help and advice from people in your position. keep you chin up.

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countrywife said on 09 July 2008

I think my husband isgoing through it. He is happy at work but not happy at home but cannot say why except he does nt love me. He wants to leave - but is less keen on the option I offered of me leaving and him staying here with 3 teenage children.
He also has erection problems - but he says thats because he does nt find me attractive because he does nt love me , even though he can see I am attractive. We are 48 and 49.

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Anonymous said on 30 June 2008

How do you cope with a husband who is going throught this mid-life crisis. My husband does not know what he wants. He says he still loves the kids and me but there is something missing. He dislikes the mundance existence.

At the moment i have asked him to leave so he can 'find himself' which he feels is something he needs to do.

I have also bought him St. John's Wart to see if that helps!

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