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Relate survey suggests mid-life crisis 'begins in 30s'

Prince Myshkin

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A cheerful news story for some of the oldies this morning






Work and relationship pressures make the mid-30s the start of many British people's unhappiest decade, a survey suggests.


Of those questioned, more people aged 35 to 44 said that they felt lonely or depressed than in other age groups.


The survey also suggested that busy parents were using Facebook and similar sites to stay in touch with children.


Relationship advice charity Relate, which is behind the research, said it revealed a "true mid-life crisis".


Of those surveyed, 21% of men and women aged 35 to 44 said they felt lonely a lot of the time, and a similar percentage said that bad relationships, either at work or home, had left them feeling depressed.


The same proportion said they felt closer to friends than family, and a quarter said they wished they had more time for their family.


Claire Tyler, Relate's chief executive, said: "Traditionally we associated the midlife crisis with people in their late 40s to 50s, but the report reveals that this period could be reaching people earlier than we would expect.


"It's no coincidence that we see people in this age group in the biggest numbers at Relate."


Professor Cary Cooper, the chairman of the charity and a researcher in work stress at Lancaster University, said that things were only likely to worsen in the current economic climate, as more was demanded of fewer employees.


He said: "We're already working the longest hours in Europe - if you constantly work people long hours it's not good for their health.


"The annual cost of work-related mental health problems is estimated at £28 billion, so it's clearly a massive problem."


The survey, conducted in collaboration with phone and broadband firm Talk Talk, revealed that 28% of 35 to 44-year-olds questioned said they had left a job because of a bad working relationship with a colleague.


It also shed light on how family relationships are standing up to modern life.


While most people described their relationship with their partner as in positive terms, one in five were worried about the current financial climate.


Working long hours, arguments, proper division of household chores and poor sex were cited equally by men and women as a the most common sources of problems.


Dr Jane McCartney, a chartered psychologist with an interest in adult mental health, said that it was possible that the results for 35 to 44-year-olds might be slightly skewed by the willingness of people in that age group to be frank about depression and loneliness, compared to older people surveyed.


She added: "However, there might certainly be a grain of truth in what they've found - there are higher expectations on people of this age in terms of what they've achieved in their careers and family life."

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