Midlife Crisis for Women: What Does It Look Like?

Sharing Is Caring!

Last Updated on December 8, 2023 by Erin

Wondering what a midlife crisis for women looks like? When does it happen? What causes it? When do you need help? Read on to find out what I’ve learned.

Woman thinking
Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

What Is Midlife?

Midlife is a period of adulthood typically considered to be between the ages of 40-60. It is a time when you start to question your job, your marriage, and your general purpose in life. Although it is true many midlife women are becoming empty nesters, many of us who started families later in life are experiencing midlife challenges with young children. For example, I’m almost 40 and I have a child in elementary school, preschool, and daycare.

Regardless of where we are in life, the challenges could look the same for any of us.

Some of these midlife challenges can include:

  • changes in health
  • managing chronic conditions
  • caregiver exhaustion
  • burnout from our careers
  • hormonal changes
  • changes in family dynamic

These challenges can put you in a definite midlife funk.

What Does a Midlife Crisis Look Like?

If those challenges build up and are not dealt with in a healthy way, that midlife funk could turn into a midlife crisis. It’s really important to develop some healthy coping strategies when going through a midlife crisis. If it ever starts to feel like more than you can handle, reach out to a medical and/or mental health professional.

The stereotypical idea of a midlife crisis is buying sports cars, men suddenly dying their hair, extramarital affairs, divorce, and so on. (Or at least that’s what I always envisioned). Yet…

I started experiencing a crisis at 35 when the burnout from my job in education became too much while trying to take care of 3 kids at home. I was coming home and needed to totally check out from my three kids before I could handle any conversations or talk about dinner. I was ordering takeout all the time and always in a bad mood. I decided it was absolutely NOT how I wanted my kids to remember me. I could have tried to push through year after year, but I 100% think that would have worse for my family. I chose to take action and resign from my job.

I also grew out my gorgeous gray hair, got bangs, and decided to get my nose pierced. I started caring so much less about what people thought about me and remembered that I only get to live this beautiful life once. I’m not saying go full YOLO, because that could be reckless, but I like to think of a midlife crisis as an opportunity to become your best self. You have wisdom and experience you lacked 10-15 years ago.

What Causes a Midlife Crisis in Women?

A midlife crisis can be a period of significant transition and re-evaluation for both men and women, but there are certain experiences that can be unique to women.

1. Hormones

As I mentioned before, hormones start playing a big role in our lives. I mean, they always do. (Gosh dang those postpartum blues were tough!) Hormonal changes in midlife could lead to:

  • insomnia
  • anxiety
  • fatigue
  • mood swings
  • difficulty maintaining weight
  • apathy

Fun, right? Don’t let these things run you to the ground. Talk to your gynecologist and see if there’s something you can do about it. I HATE exercise but I got a dog last year and the required daily walks vastly improved my overall energy levels. Try new things, mix it up, and see if that helps. I personally advocate for medication if necessary.

2. Trauma

Trauma can also impact us. Trauma can be from a whole host of major life events, such as death or divorce. I think there are a lot of unique traumatic things that can happen to us as women pertaining to our children and fertility.

When I had my last child a few years ago, the pregnancy had been incredibly tough on my body, and I made the decision to have my tubes removed during the C-section. Even though it was my choice, it caused some emotional trauma for me. My fertility was gone, and a bit of my identity was then gone as well. I realize that’s not as dramatic as a death or divorce, but many of us feel defined by our motherhood. It has a profound impact on us whether we have just stopped having kids or the kids are moving off to college.

3. Society’s Perceptions of Aging

And let’s get real…it’s super not helpful to see pictures on magazines, websites, or social media of celebrities with headlines that talk about how great they look for their age. It makes us feel like aging is a horrible thing. I started getting gray hairs around age 30 and crow’s feet have now made an appearance.

I want to be true to myself but dadgum it is hard. The message I keep receiving, and the one I’ve received my whole life, is that getting old is ugly. When we hit midlife, those are insecurities and worries we have to take head on.

4. Family Responsibilities

Women are often responsible for caring for children, aging parents, and managing household responsibilities. This can lead to feelings of burnout and a desire to pursue personal goals and interests that may have been put on hold.

ALL of these factors might make us want to make some big changes to pursue happiness. How could it not?!

How a Midlife Crisis Could Be an Amazing Opportunity

Ok, I’ve made it pretty clear that there can be some shitty things about midlife but there are also some great positives. I suggest getting help where you can for some of the things you are experiencing, whether that’s medical help or therapy. Talk to someone and find your support system. I also suggest taking a look at the things you want to change and do something about it! I have a whole post dedicated to ways to deal with a midlife crisis.

Explore those feelings, sit on them for a while, and consider the possibilities. Change can be AMAZING! It’s scary and uncomfortable but it might be the best thing you ever do.

Final Thoughts

A midlife crisis experience for women can be shaped by a combination of biological factors, societal factors, and trauma. It can be a time of introspection, growth, and transformation as women navigate these complex issues and re-evaluate their priorities and goals.

You’ve got this!


Midlife crisis for women: what makes it different?

Sharing Is Caring!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top