QUESTION: Is Gambling a Normal Part of a Mid-Life Crisis?
ANSWER: The term “mid-life crisis” refers to a time in a person’s life—usually from 40 to 60–when they start to dwell on their mortality and become dissatisfied with their past achievements. This can lead to substantial alterations in one’s day-to-day existence, including changing careers, ending their marriage, or even getting plastic surgery to look younger.
But not all actions taken by middle-aged individuals are as radical as leaving their spouse or buying a sports car that they can’t afford. In fact, studies have shown that fewer than 10% of Americans were psychologically affected by the aging process. Those numbers are thought to be even lower in countries like Japan and India, which has led researchers to suggest that a mid-life crisis is largely a by-product of the culture a person grows up in.
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To answer the question begins with understanding the causes and symptoms of what causes “middle-age crazy.”
Reasons for a Crisis
Lots of factors can trigger changes in middle-age behavior, but the reasons listed below are the most common. These can apply to both men and women.
Dealing with Death – Friends and relatives are going to die. It’s inevitable. When a person reaches the middle stage of their life, the odds of this happening increase. Dealing with the death of someone close can have a profound effect on an individual, and it’s only natural that they begin to reflect on the passage of time and their own mortality.
Becoming a Grandparent – When your kids have children of their own, it’s a time for celebration. Unfortunately, seeing your offspring start a family also makes most people feel old. It’s just another reminder that time is creeping inexorably forward.
Another Birthday – Children love birthdays, as it’s an opportunity to get presents and celebrate growing up. Once you’re grown, however, the birthday presents become less frequent and the annual date serves as a reminder that you’re one year closer to death. While other factors can contribute significantly to a mid-life crisis, this is often the root cause.
Noticing Physical Changes – Most people look in the mirror at least once a day, and the face that looks back at them will inevitably change over time thanks to wrinkles and thinning hair. Greying hair is also another sign of the aging process, as well as the dreaded “middle-age spread.” When these changes begin to occur, it’s natural for an individual to feel as though their quality years are beginning to fade away.
Lack of Variety – During the middle years of a person’s life, it’s not unusual for them to begin to feel trapped, especially if they’ve been in the same job or marriage for a couple of decades. People tend to fall into a routine, and the sameness of everyday life can lead to drastic changes.
Children Leaving Home – When children leave home to begin college or start their own families, it’s another reminder of the passage of time. While some individuals welcome this change as an opportunity to focus on their own pursuits, others are left feeling empty and lacking in purpose.
Common Behavior during a Midlife Crisis
Those who are strongly affected by middle age exhibit a number of different symptoms. Some are relatively harmless, while others can have lasting consequences for both the individual and those close to them.
Back to School – If a person is unhappy with their career, they may decide to go back to college in order to receive additional skills that allow them to change jobs. Of course, just because an individual returns to school at 45 doesn’t mean that they’re suffering from an adverse psychological reaction to aging.
Looking for a Younger Partner – Individuals have been known to leave their spouses for a younger partner, or they may decide to carry on an affair. In some extreme cases, people have been known to abandon their families and move to a different state with little warning.
Paying More Attention to Your Appearance – A person may start dressing better, coloring their hair, or they may turn to more permanent remedies such as plastic surgery in an effort to recapture their youth.
Drinking or Drug Use – In an attempt to make life more thrilling, some people suffering from a mid-life crisis may begin to drink more or even use illegal substances. This is unwise, of course, as a 50-year-old body is far less resistant to such abuses.
Seeking Excitement – The desire to gamble falls into this category, as middle-age individuals are often looking for ways to spice up their life. This might take the form of a session at a blackjack or craps table, or it might be a more dangerous option such as skydiving.
Unnecessary Purchases – The stereotype of the midlife crisis is a 40-something male driving around in a red sports car (often with a 20-something female in the passenger’s seat). Women are just as likely to make unnecessary purchases, however, and these can range from designer shoes to expensive jewelry.
Is a Middle Age Crisis Inevitable?
During their middle years, it’s natural for people to think about the state of their life and what they’ve accomplished so far. However, this doesn’t mean that they’re going to make radical changes to their lifestyle as a result.
Only a small percentage of people behave in a way that would constitute a midlife crisis. Those individuals range in age from 40 to 60, with 46 being the most common age for such behavior to begin. This pattern of behavior in men tends to last anywhere from three years to a decade, while women have a shorter duration of two to five years.
Is Gambling a Normal Part of a Midlife Crisis?
If you’re part of the minority who experiences a legitimate crisis in their middle years, seeking enhanced thrills from gambling is perfectly natural. The risk of games such as roulette and blackjack can serve to make an individual feel more alive, although they do run the risk of losing much of the money they’ve been saving up for the last few decades.
The best strategy for middle-age men and women is to do small things that enhance their overall enjoyment of life. If this involves gambling at an online or land-based casino, then there’s nothing wrong with it. It only become a problem—like most things in life—when it’s not approached with a sense of responsibility and moderation.