The mid-life crisis is real and will strike at 47, new research finds

Data collected from 132 countries has pinpointed the exact age of peak misery

A US study has found that in the developed world a midlife crisis is most likely to strike at age 47. Getty
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The midlife crisis is real and is most likely to strike at age 47, according to new research.

A comprehensive study comprising data from 132 countries collected by the American National Bureau for Economic Research found the ‘happiness curve’ bottoms out in the late forties as taxing issues such as salaries, health and major life events take their toll.

The report concluded that the peak of unhappiness hits at 47.2 years of age in the developed world, and at 48.2 for those living in developing nations.

Dartmouth College Professor David Blanchflower, a former Bank of England policymaker who conducted the research, concluded a ‘happiness curve’ is generally u-shaped throughout our lifetimes.

As we approach the age of 50, the sense of our own mortality begins to dawn upon us

“The curve’s trajectory holds true in countries where the median wage is high and where it is not, and where people tend to live longer and where they don’t,” he said.

Although middle age can be miserable for some, feelings of self-doubt are common and simple steps can be taken to keep depression at bay, experts said.

“As we approach the age of 50, the sense of our own mortality begins to dawn upon us – children may have left home, parents are ageing and frail, or have passed away, and we are noticing a shift in our physical health and energy,” said Tanya Dharamshi, a counselling psychologist at the Priory Wellbeing Centre, Dubai.

“There is also the questioning of our achievements and successes, both personally and professionally, when reaching such a significant milestone.

“Feelings of anxiety and depression are extremely common at this time and can cause sleepless nights, addictions, mood swings, boredom and a lack of appetite.

“It often leaves people feeling lacklustre with life in general.”

Ms Dharamshi said setting goals to escape a comfort zone can reinvigorate people when they hit a midlife crisis.

Reflecting on achievements can also help, while making time for simple pleasures such as walking in the fresh air, reading a book or reconnecting with friends are other beneficial steps, she said.

“It is so important to realise almost everyone will feel like this at some point as they approach middle age, and that it’s completely normal,” Ms Dharamshi said.

“Exercise is proven to help our mental health and well-being.

“Giving social media a break can be a big help too, as feelings of depression and anxiety will only heighten if we are online often.

“We all reach a stage in our life when we are a bit more reflective.

“It can be hugely positive to just sit back and step away from our busy and chaotic day-to-day routines.”