The term midlife crisis is almost a cliché at this point. But a mid-life crisis can and does affect
men and women generally between the ages of 40-65. Lots can happen during that time frame including, but not limited to hormonal changes, children moving from the home, care of aging parents, and the aging process. Let's look at the relationship between hormone changes and midlife crisis.
Common Causes of Midlife Crisis
Your hormones will not cause the following situations, but they can influence how you react.
Individual life-altering events will send even the calmest, most centered person into crisis mode. This is normal. But the interplay between how you feel when stress occurs and your ability to react appropriately is influenced by hormone levels. The following events can create a major crisis:
Divorce- Divorce or separation from a partner can be an earth-shattering event, especially when children are involved and even if they aren't.
Loss of a Loved One- The sudden loss of a loved one can plunge you into grief, hopelessness, and depression.
Job Loss- Job losses over the past year have been devastating. Losses have disproportionately affected women who have stayed home with children. Many have lost their jobs in hospitality, transportation, airlines, retail, sports, and performing arts and gyms.
Relocation-Moving is considered one of the most significant stressors one can experience in a lifetime. Moving doesn't just refer to moving to another state; it can also refer to moving to another home in the same city.
Caring for an Aging Parent- Family caregiving from all ages and both genders are growing. As people age, families take on the responsibilities of caregiving in significant numbers. Women, in particular, have left employment to care for aging parents.
Emotions and Reflections During a Midlife Crisis
Reevaluating one's life is a healthy and normal part of getting older. Everyone has regrets, but when those or other distressing feelings interfere with your health and well-being, it might be time to take action.
Fear of Mortality- For men and women alike, fear of death can cause a great deal of anxiety as one gets closer. No one gets out alive, and many people don't have a spiritual anchor or affiliation to help process these feelings.
Dissatisfaction with Career Choices- Before you know it, decades have gone by, and it seems too late to try that great idea you had in your 30's. Staying with a job that hasn't brought you the joy you were hoping for can cause regret and frustration.
Not Enough "Me Time"- Women are the caregivers of the world. They care for their children, spouses, and aging parents. And they do a good job of it, often without much thanks. If you fit any of these categories, you might wake up one morning after the kids have moved on and realize you hadn't had enough "me time"; and you don't even know what to do about it.
Meaning and Purpose - Depending upon your circumstances, feeling a lack of meaning and purpose may be related to relationship, job, or other family changes.
Aging Changes- Aging is a significant stressor. For women and men, aging changes can bring dissatisfaction with appearance, energy, focus, and libido. Women try to keep up in an age obsessed society that places unrealistic expectations on their appearance.
What do Hormones Have to Do with Midlife Crisis?
Plunging hormones affect both men and women as they get older. Just around that time, a midlife crisis occurs. Coincidence? Yes and no. The complex interplay between hormones and emotional responses to stressful events can't be overlooked. Women go through Perimenopause, and men go through Andropause. Some of the changes associated with declining hormones:
Lower levels of testosterone and estrogen cause fatigue in both men and women. Production of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone usually begins to slow when a woman reaches her 40s. This is when a woman enters the perimenopausal period. The full transition to menopause can take 4 to 12 years.As a woman enters the perimenopausal phase, hormone levels are unpredictable and continue to decrease. These hormonal changes cause symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and emotional ability, affecting sleep, mood, and energy levels.
Fluctuating emotions can feel like a wrecking ball in your life. Overreacting, tearfulness,
difficulty concentrating, depression and anxiety are common consequences of hormonal changes. Your life could be going along swimmingly with few stressors, and you still feel terrible. Minimal changes can seem like huge problems, and you can't summon the emotional resources to cope.
Poor sleep due to declining progesterone levels, along with all of the other symptoms associated with menopause, can have a very negative effect on your overall well-being. Poor concentration and fatigue are associated with a lack of sleep.
Decreasing libido for men and women is a common consequence of plummeting hormones. Lack of libido can affect self-esteem and cause problems in your relationship.
Solutions to a Midlife Crisis
The first step to dealing with a midlife crisis is to take a look at your physical and emotional
foundation. Evaluate the things you can control and tackle those. Shoring up and focusing on your health will give you a sense of control.
Check Your Hormone Levels- If you have declining or fluctuating hormone levels, it will be tough to deal with stress. At Optimal Hormone Health, we can check your levels and create an individualized hormone replacement plan. You will be amazed at how much better you will feel with better sleep and improved energy and libido.
Exercise- Movement has so many benefits, including better memory, energy, focus, and health. One thing is for certain; if you incorporate regular exercise into your schedule, you will improve all aspects of your life and your ability to handle stress.
Eat Well- Eating well is pretty simple. Focus on a plant-based diet and whole grains, nuts, legumes, and fish. Avoid processed foods, high fat, and sugar. Your diet impacts how you feel mentally and physically.
Midlife Crisis and Hormones
If your hormones are not at their optimal levels, it will be that much harder to deal with the
inevitable stressors of life. There is no "cure" for the feelings, regrets, and frustrations of a midlife crisis. Making an effort to attend to all aspects of your health will give you a foundation of reserves to cope with any problem.