Almost everyone has heard of the dreaded phrase “Midlife Crisis”. The average woman experiences one at the age of 44. The two most common female reasons for a midlife crisis are that their children are suddenly gone and that their lifestyle changes enable more opportunities. It could also be caused by menopause. In this “Midlife Crisis Series,” we are going to explore the different ways that therapy can help during this new life chapter. Last week, we discussed the cost of a midlife crisis. And we compared the average impulse buys to the cost of therapy. This week, we want to go a bit more in-depth. And discuss the ways that therapy reveals opportunity in the midst of a midlife crisis.

Are You Going Through a Midlife Crisis?

Research consistently confirms that people in their 40s and 50s are the least happy age group around. Are you a forty or fifty-something? Do you often feel unhappy, irritable, “stuck”, or even depressed? Well, good news first, you are not alone. A number of our clients belong to this age group. And the range of problems/issues brought up can be summed up as a “midlife crisis”.

The Signs and Symptoms

What are the signs or symptoms that you might be going through this stage? In his book on the subject, psychotherapist Andrew G. Marshall suggests the list of possible behaviors:

  • Discontentment or boredom with people or activities that provided fulfillment beforehand
  • Feeling restless and wanting to do something completely different from one’s life
  • Anxiety about the future
  • Questioning decisions made years earlier and the true meaning of life
  • Confusion about who one really is or where one’s life is going
  • Daydreaming
  • Irritability, unexpected anger
  • Persistent sadness
  • Increased use of alcohol, drugs, food or other compulsions
  • Greatly decreased or increased sexual desire
  • Sexual affairs, especially with someone younger
  • Greatly decreased or increased ambition
  • Fretting about status and the point reached in one’s career
  • For women in particular, worrying about not having had children or whether they want them in the future

If This Sounds Like You, What Can You Do?

Have you suddenly found yourself in this situation? Do you often feel “stuck”? Have you achieved a lot in your life, but are unable to enjoy the fruits of your labor? You might feel you want to do something differently, but not sure what or how. Don’t think of this time as negative! Therapy reveals opportunity!

Therapy Reveals Opportunity: Step One

The first step would be to acknowledge that the midlife crisis does exist. The Chinese word for “crisis” is made up of two hieroglyphs. The first is a danger. And the second is an opportunity. In translation, it means that this stage of life is up to you. Not to mention what you will make of it.

In our 20s and 30s, we are programmed to achieve success and build careers. More often than not, we are in a field we would not have chosen for ourselves. On top of that, there is societal pressure to get married. We are often asked when we are going to settle down. And then answer every couples favorite question, “What are you having children?”. We are all expected to achieve certain milestones. And we are so busy that there is often no time for self-reflection. Or questioning if what we are doing is actually what we want to do.

Your 40s and 50s is the time to do just that – pause and think. So far you might have been fulfilling somebody else’s ambitions. This can include parents, old coaches, professors, or other mentors. But most likely, you have not stopped to consider your own. Now it’s your time.

Therapy Reveals Opportunity: Step Two

Ask yourself those big questions. However, a word of warning. As you tentatively start asking yourself, what it is that you really want out of life, you might encounter resistance from your own internal voice. It will be telling you that you are wasting your time. It may tell you that you are just “lazy” or “selfish”. The voice may say that you should stop daydreaming when you have a million other things to do. In therapy terms, that is your “Adapted Self” coming up against your “Real Self”.

Therapy Can Do Wonders for Your Midlife Crisis

This is where therapy can help. Many therapy clients report that what they really need is to have some space. That they need to take stock of their lives outside their day to day routine. The counseling room could become that safe space. A space where you know you have an hour of self-reflection. A time to truly focus on yourself.

With the help of a therapist, you will be able to acknowledge your critical inner voice. You may also realize that it is not who you really are. Even more, you may learn that there is more to you than you know now.

A midlife crisis means that you have a massive task ahead of you. This task is to figure out how you want to live the rest of your life. And while you may have your own reservations, the sooner you begin this process, the better. If you don’t, your crisis will come back. If you ignore it completely it will manifest itself in compulsive behaviors, nervous break downs or somatic illnesses.

Let CPA Help You! 

Don’t put it off. A midlife crisis is a unique opportunity to make your life really yours. Therapy reveals opportunity. Seriously. Therapy can help your future life be the most fulfilling it can possibly be! So, give Cristina Panacionne and Associates a call. We know this may be a hard decision to make. But again, we want to say that there is no shame in needing a bit of extra support. Cristina Panaccione and Associates Counseling has two locations in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. We are currently accepting a limited number of new patients. So check out our videos to learn more about how we can help come out of therapy.


* This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please contact a medical professional for advice.

Danielle A. LeFevre

Danielle A. LeFerve is a Nationally Certified Counselor with a Master’s Degree in Clinical Mental Health. She has an eclectic history of work experience which has afforded her the opportunity to work with both children and adults. She is knowledgeable in the areas concerned with Mood disorders, ODD, conduct disorders, crisis management, trauma, suicidality, family conflict and life transitions. And she uses a person-centered, humanistic approach along with cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and attachment theory. She understands that life is a journey, one of which that is not always a smooth ride. That’s why she is here, to help you navigate the detours. She is passionate about facilitating a healthy overall well-being for all individuals, as she works to help you further your life goals.