For years, the midlife crisis was considered a myth; today we know that it actually exists and that men between the ages of 40 and 55 are particularly affected. The mid-life crisis, also known as a climacteric virile or andropause, is not an illness in the classic sense, but a phase of life. Andropause can neither be specifically treated nor prevented.
What is a midlife crisis?
Not only the woman goes through changes after a certain age; men too have to experience changes and subsequently accept them. In men, it is a gradual decline in sex hormones; however, the woman is abruptly confronted with the fact that she is in menopause. See AbbreviationFinder for abbreviations related to Midlife Crisis.
The midlife crisis is not a myth, but a serious change in the male body. At the latest when the lords of creation ask themselves whether they have been able to achieve all their goals in life and whether there are no other successes, the suspicion of a mid-life crisis is obvious.
But not only the behavior, which is often described as “strange”, suggests a mid-life crisis; there are numerous symptoms that indicate that the man is going through changes.
With the age of 30, testosterone production increases. Until the age of 40, the production of the sex hormone remains at the same level; after that it decreases – year by year – by around one percent. At the same time, however, the proportion of globulin that binds the sex hormones increases. Therefore, not only is less testosterone produced, but the stock that is present is reduced.
A circumstance that the man notices very well and that leads to the so-called midlife crisis occurring. Affected men often ask themselves whether they have achieved all their goals in life, become insecure and try – subconsciously – to compensate for the falling testosterone levels. They start new hobbies, look for challenges and ask themselves if they can still achieve more in life.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
The symptoms of a mid-life crisis are rather unspecific and also much less pronounced than those that occur in women during the menopause. Possible symptoms are a decrease in libido, reduced beard growth, erectile dysfunction, osteoporosis, muscle breakdown.
At the same time, there can be an increase in fat mass, inner restlessness, nervousness, decreasing motivation and performance, outbreaks of sweating, hot flashes and depression.
However, not all of the listed symptoms have to occur for the doctor to be sure that a midlife crisis is involved. Studies have found that just three sexual symptoms – coupled with declining testosterone – are enough to set the stage for a mid-life crisis. Above all, the lack of a morning erection can be an indication of a mid-life crisis or andropause.
Diagnosis & disease progression
At the beginning there is a discussion with the treating doctor; ideally an endocrinologist or urologist. Physical examinations are then carried out. The doctor tries to rule out organic causes.
The diagnosis can only be made with a blood test; the doctor measures the concentration of the sex hormones and can determine whether an andropause has occurred or not. If the testosterone level is low and the man is between the ages of 40 and 55, a mid-life crisis can be assumed.
Physicians become alert when testosterone falls below a certain level and other diseases such as obesity, diabetes or lipid metabolism disorders occur. The hormone influences such diseases, which in turn affect testosterone. A “vicious circle” that should not be underestimated. The menopause is over at the age of 75, at least that’s what doctors assume.
So far, however, it has not been clearly clarified whether it is actually such a long phase or not, since the mid-life crisis occurs in many men unnoticed. Many men don’t even realize that their body is going through a change. Other men definitely feel that something is wrong, become restless and try to compensate for the decreased testosterone level.
A mid-life crisis can trigger complications, but they rarely have an illness value. The complicated entanglements and the dramatic emotional states arise from the crisis situation that many people slip into as a result of hormonal changes in mid-life.
Although middle-aged life crises can affect both sexes, it seems to affect men more often. Therefore, the andropause is also referred to as the climacteric virile. In women, one only speaks of the climacteric or menopause. Both are due to hormonal changes that mess things up in the organism.
Common complications of a midlife crisis include hormonal imbalances, sweating, mood swings, and depression. This can also lead to identity and life crises. These can make those affected no longer satisfied with their previous life plans. As a result, people often change jobs, divorce a functioning marriage or change their lifestyle.
While some sufferers may experience physical discomfort, hair loss, libido problems, weight gain, or wrinkling, others experience the crisis without any complications. However, persistent depression during a midlife crisis should be treated. Going to the psychotherapist is indicated if the person concerned withdraws more and more or even harbors suicidal thoughts. Marriage counseling may be indicated for partnership problems that arise during the mid-life crisis.
When should you go to the doctor?
Even if a mid-life crisis can feel threatening in individual cases, it has no illness value in itself. However, side effects such as depression or psychosomatic symptoms may make treatment necessary.
Midlife crisis can be the beginning of a reorientation in life. First of all, however, all habits are called into question by drastic experiences or changes. This can plunge people into a deep crisis. This can last a year or two. Those affected often need psychological or medical support to overcome the crisis. Those who find themselves in the middle of a midlife crisis often do not recognize the potential development opportunities that it holds.
Depression is often a means of capping anger and despair. Change is not seen as desirable or negated. In this case, talk therapy is often helpful. The same applies if those affected develop psychosomatic symptoms as a result of the shock of having been abandoned. The visit to the doctor could lead to the realization that a cure in a correspondingly equipped clinic would make sense.
The mid-life crisis is used by many people to free themselves from encrusted structures. For others, however, a world collapses. These people need help. Whether this is sought from a doctor or an alternative practitioner with additional psychotherapeutic training is irrelevant.
Treatment & Therapy
The decline in hormone production is a natural process in a man’s life. For this reason, it is not necessary to start any special therapy; the midlife crisis is ultimately a stage in life that occurs and cannot be prevented or stopped. HAT – hormone replacement therapy – is also not used in men.
Women receive this therapy to relieve menopausal symptoms. However, since men do not have any “typical” symptoms, no such therapies are recommended or used. Although sometimes testosterone replacement treatment can be given, this treatment is not part of the standard procedure for treatment for a mid-life crisis that has occurred.
The treatment is also not without controversy, as it has numerous side effects. Among other things, testosterone is suspected of promoting prostate cancer. In addition, there are no long-term studies that actually provide information about whether treatments with hormones are helpful or not. In the end, all that remains is the serenity to change and mature. Even if it sounds harsh, the man has to come to terms with the course of nature.
Outlook & Forecast
The midlife crisis passes even without therapy. It is not a serious illness. Nevertheless, those affected can sometimes suffer for years from the consequences of this experience. Affected people have few options to relieve the pain. Of course, this is an additional burden. People plagued by the midlife crisis should focus on their own interests. In addition, those affected should acknowledge the burden. This facilitates the healing process.
However, midlife crises do not have to last for a long time. Sometimes the crisis is over after just a few months. The person concerned already feels more stable. Then it is possible to enjoy life in peace again. If you’re already feeling a little more balanced and content, you’ve gotten through the worst part of the midlife crisis.
It’s easier to recover quickly when you’re spending time with family or pursuing hobbies. If friends and family are at a loss, talk therapy should be used to address recovery. As one point of contact among many, these people can help to find themselves again. This allows the crisis to be overcome quickly. Ultimately, resting and introspecting is the best option for a speedy recovery.
The age-related decline in sex hormones is a natural and harmless process that definitely cannot be halted or stopped. Men can still stay fit if they exercise enough and eat a balanced diet. With a healthy attitude towards life, it can reduce possible ailments.
The complications of mid-life crisis are usually not considered to be pathological, but take place through a gradual process in which the body changes hormones. Therefore, no classic aftercare can be used here, rather it is about overcoming the complicated entanglements and dramatic emotional situations in the long term.
Common complications of midlife crisis include depression, mood swings, hormonal imbalances, and sweating. The mid-life crisis can cause life and identity crises in those affected. This requires a sensitive approach to the social environment, encouraging conversations can reduce the psychological pressure. Some sufferers develop suicidal thoughts or withdraw completely. In this case, psychological treatment should be given.
For some people, the mid-life crisis causes symptoms such as hair loss, reduced libido or the increase in wrinkles. In some cases, long-term hormone replacement therapy is the only way to relieve the symptoms.
You can do that yourself
Many people who experience a midlife crisis feel disoriented. Psychological techniques can help a person affected to become aware of personal needs and goals and to actively address them. Such techniques can be found, for example, in self-management and form a practical measure that can be implemented as self-help in everyday life.
A start can be, for example, to write down things that are going well and badly in the current phase of life in order to then derive concrete decisions and changes for your own behavior from them. This process can take a long time. Other self-help methods differentiate between central areas of life such as family, work and hobbies. The person concerned then considers what the current situation looks like and what he wants as a target situation. Self-management also includes specific tools for motivation or time management. There are numerous guides on these topics on the Internet.
During the midlife crisis, social support often plays an important role. In everyday life, those affected can therefore look for such resources in their environment and, if necessary, fall back on the support of family members or friends.
Self-help is not always enough to successfully overcome a mid-life crisis. A mental illness can also be hidden behind the seemingly normal life crisis. In this case, it makes sense to consult a doctor, psychologist, psychotherapist or counselor and not to rely on self-help alone.