The male midlife crisis is often made fun of it but it can in fact be a distressing experience, a leading psychologist warns.
Midlife hits some men harder than others with some very real physical symptoms including depression and energy loss.
A poll of 1,000 men aged 40 and above said women are not alone when it comes to hitting a mid-life energy slump.
Over a third of men said they felt that they had lost their ‘spark’ when it comes to midlife and 58 percent stated that they have gone through a midlife crisis at the age of 47.
It emerged, that half of men felt they lost their spark for life while going through a midlife crisis, with three in 10 saying they had to make a lifestyle change to boost their energy levels once they reached middle age.
Dr Meg Arroll, a psychologist for Healthspan who commissioned the research, said: ‘Reaching midlife can act as a significant milestone for many men and is a time when some men become keenly aware of their own mortality.
The majority of men feel they hit a wall in their mid-40s, Dr Meg Arroll explains
THE STATE OF MIDDLE-AGED MEN: VITAL STATISTICS OF MOST MALES AGED 45-55
Only 32 percent of men are within the healthy weight range for their height.
Sixty-eight percent of men are either overweight or obese.
Only 40 percent of men meet the recommended level of physical activity – at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity at least five times a week.
Only 20 percent of middle aged men take light-to-moderate exercise, and a worrying 60 percent are totally inactive.
Only 25 percent of men eat five or more portions of fruit and vegetables per day.
An estimated 31 percent of men drink more than the recommended limit of 14 units of alcohol per week.
‘This can result in a profound sense of turmoil and confusion as life may not have turned out as envisaged (it rarely does). For some men, a way to cope with these feelings is to make life-changing decisions regarding relationships and money – as shown in the Healthspan survey a third of men questioned used spending to deal with their ‘crisis’.
‘However, this period of introspection doesn’t necessarily have to be negative – for some men middle age can in fact be positive, leading to more time spent with family, health kicks and getting back to once loved hobbies.’
A third of those in the survey said that they dealt with their midlife crisis by going on a spending spree to try and boost their mood during the crisis which they said they went through for a two-year-long crisis. A holiday, motorbike – and a tattoo are among the things men are most likely to buy during a midlife crisis the study has found.
Buying a new gadget, a sports car and even sex toys among the most common purchases. A 40-something respondent, in the poll by Healthspan Ubiquinol, also admitted to buying a $1,800 albino python while in the grip of his midlife crisis.
Dr Sarah Brewer, GP and Healthspan Medical Director said: ‘Over a quarter of those surveyed had admitted that they had experienced some sort of health scare preceding their midlife spending spree.
‘Many others admitted they were experiencing niggling problems such as flagging energy levels which made them realize they were no longer invincible but ageing like everyone else.
‘As we move from our twenties onwards our cells become less efficient at producing energy due to falling levels of a vital promoter called Ubiquinol which acts like a spark plug for our cellular ‘engines’.
‘Reduced production of ubiquinol causes cells to function less efficiently, and I would advise anyone in their early forties to start taking Healthspan Ubiquinol to boost natural energy levels – I wouldn’t be without it.’
HOW TO AVOID THE MID-LIFE SLUMP
1. Be realistic
Dr Meg Arroll, says: ‘When evaluating compare down, not up – it’s all too easy to see your mates from school on social media who have the ‘dream life’, i.e. the car, the house, the money and perfect family. However, we tend to portray our ideal selves online, so the reality of this mate’s life is likely to be somewhat different from their photos. There will be many people out there who haven’t achieved the things you have – so, yes, by all means take stock, but focus on what you have (including your memories), not what you don’t.’
2. Get a once-over
Prevention and early detection are better than cure, so have a health screen to check for ‘hidden’ health factors such as raised cholesterol, high blood pressure and glucose intolerance that do not produce obvious symptoms.
At least one in three males aged 45-54 has high blood pressure, for example, but only one in eight are treated and achieve a normal blood pressure as a result.
Similarly, almost four out of five men (78 percent) in this age range have a raised cholesterol level. Your doctor surgery can offer a Health Check every 5 years between the ages of 40 and 75.
3. Watch the booze
Alcohol contributes to anxiety and depression, high blood pressure, heart arrhythmia, weight gain and liver disease. Hospital admissions, and severe problems associated with alcohol appear to be increasing in the UK, and of those men who report drinking alcohol in the last week, more than half drank more than the current recommended maximum amount. Watch your alcohol intake and avoid binges. You can assess if you are drinking too much here.
4. Cut back on salt
Salt contributes to the age-related increase in blood pressure – avoid salty foods, don’t add salt at the table, and check labels to select products that have the lowest salt/sodium content. Guidelines recommend that everyone from the age of 11 onwards should obtain no more than 6g salt per day from their diet – around one level teaspoon.
5. Cut back on sugar
Sugar is increasingly recognized as driving many age-related health problems and excessive intakes are linked with weight gain and increased risk of type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, heart disease, stroke, dementia and some cancers. Public Health England suggests that the average adult should have no more than 30g free sugars (seven sugar cubes) maximum per day. Wean yourself off sweet foods, and check labels to select products with the lowest sugar content.
6. Track yourself
Only 20% of middle aged men take light-to moderate exercise, and a worrying 60 percent are totally inactive. Use Healthspan’s NutriCoach Activity Tracker, Smart Scales and App to track your daily steps, distance and calories, log your food intake and get tailored advice on how to meet your goals – whether that’s getting fitter, gaining muscle or losing weight.
7. Put health first
Men are notorious for taking better care of their car than they do their own body. They are less likely than women to attend for a routine check-up, despite taking their motor for a regular service, and put off seeking help for persistent aches, pains or lumps – the equivalent of strange noises under the bonnet. If you notice any persistent or recurring health symptoms do see your doctor.
FELLAS, TREAT YOURSELF: TOP 20 THINGS TO BUY DURING A MIDLIFE CRISIS, A PSYCHOLOGIST SAYS
1. A holiday
2. A new gadget
3. A sports car
4. Designer clothes
5. A motorbike
6. Tickets to a concert or gig
7. A new tattoo
8. A trip traveling around the world
9. A gym membership
10. An Xbox/PlayStation
11. A designer watch
12. Tickets to a music festival
13. Major renovations to your home
14. Expensive or vintage alcohol
15. Sex toys
16. A new house/property
17. A new hairstyle/color
18. A musical instrument
19. A new, expensive bike