Don't panic! You're just having a mid-life crisis

ARE you in your 40s or early 50s and feeling a bit anxious? Are you worried about changes like your last child finishing school or a big birthday or some other significant life event and are over compensating by doing things that are somewhat out of character?

Well, you may be in the midst of a midlife crisis or a transition as the experts are calling it now.

Far from being an old wives tale, a midlife crisis, which is stereotypically characterised by the purchase of a trendy sports car, a drastic career change or even plastic surgery, is actually deeply anchored in reality.

A study published by the University of Melbourne's Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research shows that there is a definite dip on the happiness scale during middle age.

The research done in conjunction with the University of Warwick and the London School of Economics followed the lives of thousands of people in three countries tracking their happiness over a number of decades.

"We have identified a clear U-shape in human wellbeing," said lead researcher Dr Terence Cheng from the University of Melbourne. "The jury's now in. People really do experience mid-life crises.

"What is interesting is the consistency of the results in all of the three countries we examined. Human happiness hits the lowest point around the ages of 40 to 42."

Dr Cheng said that data for the study was taken from Australia, Great Britain and Germany and recording changes over a long period of time made the results more accurate.

The news is not all bad though with the research also indicating that for most people things improved steadily in their fourth decade which perhaps gives some credence to the belief that life begins at 40.

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