Mental Health

How to Navigate a Neurodivergent Mid-Life Crisis

silhouette of man with head in hands outside during sunrise having a mid-life crisis

Last Updated on

May 3rd, 2024 12:34 pm

Did you know there’s a one in four chance you’ll experience a midlife crisis if you haven’t already? Despite being used as a term to traditionally refer to the major life events a man may experience in their thirties, forties and fifties, it’s actually just as common in women too.

But for men, the reasons often appear to be much less clear thanks to societal pressures and unachievable life goals.

So let’s take a closer look at what constitutes a midlife crisis whatever your gender, and how to deal with it and become your best self at the end of it all.

What is a Mid-Life Crisis?

A midlife crisis is a time of transition when a person experiences significant change and dissatisfaction with life. This change varies from person to person for different reasons, such as the loss of power, status, or social position. Crises often result from the failure to achieve important goals or milestones, reflecting on poor life choices, or a corresponding feeling of self-doubt about one’s potential for future achievement.

It’s more common for people to experience a midlife crisis when they make career changes in later life. However, it’s also possible for people to experience this type of crisis earlier which then leads to a mild depression in midlife during a transitional period.

How Old is Mid-Life?

Midlife is typically defined from years 35–55 where many experience stressors which lead them to be labelled as having a midlife crisis. The variety of symptoms experienced by individuals with a traditional midlife crisis include, but are not limited to, symptoms of anxiety and regular depressive episodes.

Personality type and a history of psychological crises are believed to predispose some people to the “traditional” midlife crisis. It is important for individuals going through these life transitions to understand that it’s not really about the difficulty of daily pressures; it’s more about feeling overwhelmed without support or guidance.

What Are the Signs of a Mid-Life Crisis?

A midlife crisis can be a difficult time for anyone, and it’s important to know the signs, so you can get help if you need it. The most common signs that midlife experiences are affecting you include:

Lack of Self-Worth

Feeling like you’re in a rut and not knowing what to do is a classic sign of a midlife crisis. You might feel like you’ve lost your purpose or direction and have no idea what you want out of life.


It’s common for anyone with a history of depressive symptoms in their family to also see the signs during a midlife crisis. Whether that’s mild depression or a more extreme health issue, an emotional crisis can trigger mood swings and intensify feelings of sadness and hopelessness.


Some people who go through a midlife crisis are angry with themselves for not achieving certain goals. They feel guilty about not living up to expectations and blame themselves for everything that has gone wrong in their lives.

Relationship Problems

When you start questioning whether you’re good enough for someone else, you’re probably dealing with a midlife crisis of sorts. Struggling with relationship problems can cause a lot of emotional pain and can affect your ability to function normally.

Financial Issues

Many times, middle-aged people who are struggling financially will develop a midlife crisis because they don’t know how to handle money, or they struggle to adapt to a reduced quality of life. Financial issues can create tension in relationships and may even lead to divorce.

Withdrawal from Society

People who withdraw from society at this stage of life usually have a midlife crisis, especially if they are socially isolated. Some people become reclusive and isolate themselves from others because they feel like they’re failing at life, and they don’t want to face reality.

Weight Loss or Gain

Gaining weight or losing weight is another trait, especially in middle-aged parents. People often gain weight when they’re showing symptoms of depression or stress, and in men, this can also cause changes in testosterone levels. It’s one of the many well-documented reasons why it’s very important to eat healthy foods and exercise regularly.

Loss of Libido

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk to somebody about how you’re feeling – either a friend or family member, or a professional therapist or doctor for a medical diagnosis.

If a loss of libido is likely down to relationship issues, consider couples therapy. Some therapists specialize in helping couples regain their sex drive and intimacy, so it’s worth looking round to find one that suits your own individual circumstances.

What Causes a Mid-Life Crisis?

There are many causes of a midlife crisis. Here are some of the main examples:

Declining Health

Some people experience it because they are no longer able to engage physical abilities and activities they once loved, like play sports or travel. Often this comes down to chronic pain, medical illness or a sudden change in one’s personal life such as a heart attack, separation or bereavement.

Declining health isn’t restricted to the person having the midlife crisis, either. Often, it’s a by-product of a loved one falling ill or a person of responsibility. So it’s important to remember that anyone can be affected at any time.

Lack of Fulfilment

Others may feel like they’re at a standstill in their lives and can’t seem to move forward during an emotional crisis. It’s also possible to experience a psychological crisis if you have regrets about things you haven’t done yet or didn’t do earlier in life.

Many start questioning the cultural construct of marriage and family around this time as well. Whether the kids have grown up and moved away, or as mentioned above there’s been some chaos in the life of a loved one. Triggers for a midlife crisis are sometimes clear, but at other times much harder to spot.

What’s more, the stigmas associated with mental disorders such as bipolar disorder, as well as depressive disorders, are being addressed by the majority for the first time rather than the minority, and that’s partially down to the recent pandemic, and partially due to the wider accessibility of social media and the internet.

businessman in suit holding a glass of alcohol

Unrealistic expectations set by society are one of the leading contributors to a midlife crisis in men

Pressures of Social Conformity

In Western societies, in particular affluent nations, men are more likely than women to experience a midlife crisis due to the societal pressures that are put on them at this stage in life. For example, men often feel like they need to have successful career paths whilst maintaining socioeconomic status and solid social roles in order to “have it all.”

When they reach middle age and don’t feel like they’ve achieved these goals, they may start to feel like they’re running out of time, bidding adieu to careers best fitted for younger candidates.

Hormonal Changes

Some experts believe that the midlife crisis is caused by a change in hormone levels, while others think it’s due to a change in perspective as people get closer to the end of their lives. Whatever the cause may be, it’s clear that this time period can be difficult for many people.

Additionally, undergo significant physical health changes as they get older which can also contribute to feelings of anxiety or inadequacy. As testosterone levels drop and muscles shrink, some men may feel like their body is betraying them. In women, menopause can bring about a host of physical and emotional changes that can contribute to a midlife crisis.

These changes can lead to a heightened sense of vulnerability and insecurity which can trigger this midlife depression.

How to Deal With a Mid-Life Crisis

A midlife crisis can be a difficult time for anyone. It’s normal to feel a range of emotions, such as anxiety, sadness, anger and major depression. However, it’s important to remember that the crisis is only temporary. Here are some tips on how to deal with a midlife crisis:

Spend Time With Yourself

Make time to spend alone and reflect on your life. Take walks, go to the gym, read books, write letters, meditate, journal, and watch movies. These activities will give you something to focus on other than your problems.

Regular Exercise

Testosterone levels, as well as declining health, are one of the primary factors in a middle age existential crisis, so getting regular exercise is a must. Not only that, but the benefits of exercise in other areas of your life are also well-documented. For example, studies show that people who exercise regularly tend to live longer, healthier lives.

Talk About Your Feelings

It’s easy to bottle things up when we’re feeling vulnerable, but if you want to avoid a midlife crisis, talk about what you’re going through. Talk to friends, family members, and even your doctor about your concerns. You might find that talking about your feelings helps you work towards a solution.

Get Help From Friends and Family

If you’re having trouble coping with your situation, ask your partner or close friends for help. They may be able to offer advice or suggestions for dealing with your worries. Or, you could seek counselling from a mental health professional.

businessman stressed being comforted by woman

Make sure you have friends and family you can rely on in times of need

Try Meditation

Meditation has been well-documented to not only calm the nerves but reduce symptoms of depression to a manageable level. Remember, not every type of meditation works for everyone, so don’t be afraid to stick at it until you find something that works for you.

Examples of popular meditation include mindfulness meditation, yoga, tai chi, qi gong, and transcendental meditation. All these are excellent for allowing any middle-aged adult to reflect and relax and alleviate the anxiety that comes with any mental health issue.

Be Creative

Engage in creative pursuits to provide some relief from negative thoughts during a crisis. Revisit that hobby you used to love years ago for inspiration – Maybe it’s time to bring your old guitar or golf clubs out. Or, why not take a look at our article on unusual hobbies for something new to try!

Reset Your Goals

Consider what changes are necessary to move forward in your life and change for the better. For example, moving away from the material and consumable luxuries of life. Do sports cars really bring true happiness?

By resetting your goals, you’ll realize that things aren’t as bad as you thought they were. You’re still young enough to make small changes in your life that can have a much larger impact on your life.

Don’t Give Up Hope

It’s easy to become discouraged when facing a midlife crisis – especially if you’ve invested a lot of money into certain possessions. But, there are ways to turn this around. Don’t let yourself fall victim to hopelessness.

Instead, consider the possibility that you could have made mistakes along the way and how you can turn any negative into a positive learning experience. It’ll guide you through the existential crisis. Who knows, you may find the looming milestone birthday a reason to celebrate your midlife transition, not mourn it!

Get Professional Help

If you feel that you’re experiencing a midlife crisis, seek help from a mental health professional  doctor or therapist who specializes in dealing with emotional problems.

Of course, depending on the challenges of midlife you’re experiencing, the way you’ll need to deal with your challenges will differ. But whatever the reasons for your midlife crisis, taking note of the signs of midlife depression symptoms and mood swings is the first step to a successful healing journey.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help Coping With a Mid-Life Crisis

The most important thing if you’re going through a midlife crisis is to reach out for help. Talk to loved ones, or if you feel alone and are showing signs of depression and other mental health conditions, there are support services that can also help.

By taking these steps, you’ll become a stronger and wiser person than you ever knew. All this experience will bring you back to the best version of you. After all, everyone deserves the chance to be their best self.

Keep reading our articles on neurodiversity and mental health for more ideas to inspire!

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Rob Butler
30-Something Millennial with ADHD and suspected Autistic and Dyspraxic. Thought leader behind this website. Big visions of a better future for everyone, but forgets where he is half the time.Loves Rugby, his kids, and anything silly. Hates U2 and Marmite.

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