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Is It A Quarter-Life Crisis Or Something More?

Early adulthood can be difficult-you may be navigating the transition from college to your early career or finding that your friends are at different life stages. You might be feeling completely overwhelmed by the challenges of this new decade. You’re not alone!

These challenges are so common that they have a nickname, the quarter-life crisis. In a study of individuals ages 18-30, researchers found over 1.5 million tweets referencing the quarter-life crisis. This study found that individuals talking about the quarter-life crisis were also talking about:

  • Mixed emotions

  • Wanting change and feeling stuck

  • School and career challenges

  • Family challenges

Your feelings of overwhelm in early adulthood are common, but how do you know if it’s a quarter-life crisis or something more?

What is a Quarter-Life Crisis?

Like the midlife crisis, the quarter-life crisis is a time marked by immense transition. However, the quarter-life crisis is unique in that it addresses the specific challenges of the transition to an unpredictable time of life.

Transitions can cause significant stress and leave you feeling completely overwhelmed. You might feel like your life isn’t where you thought it would be, or feel “behind” as your friends reach personal or career milestones. Conversely, you may be the one reaching significant milestones, but find yourself feeling unfulfilled.

Symptoms of a quarter-life crisis can include:

  • Anxiety

  • Feelings of depression

  • Feeling lost

  • Feeling left behind

  • Struggling to make big decisions

  • Career stress

  • Struggling with motivation

These feelings are normal. But, how do you know if your feelings of stress are something more?

What Else Could This Be?

You might have noticed that symptoms of a quarter-life crisis include feelings of anxiety and depression. The experience of a quarter-life crisis can go hand in hand with other mental health concerns.


Anxiety is a normal feeling. Yes, you read that right.

Anxiety is a biological function that is designed to keep us safe in situations that feel threatening. It triggers a full-body response that keeps you safe when you are in danger. For example, if you feel lost or unable to decide, your brain may trigger an anxiety response.

However, your anxiety response can become overactive. In some cases, you may feel anxious over something that does not feel threatening, or find that your body moves quickly from a passing thought to a full-blown panic attack. This can feel scary and overwhelming, but there is help!

If you notice your feelings of anxiety are interrupting your daily life, it might be time to reach out to a mental health professional for additional support. Anxiety is treatable with the right support!


If your quarter-life crisis has you feeling directionless, you may notice symptoms of depression such as:

  • Lack of energy

  • Lack of motivation

  • Tiredness

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Discontent, sadness, or hopelessness

  • Passive or active suicidal ideation

In a quarter-life crisis, you may experience some of these symptoms at times. They may even come and go in waves. However, with a quarter-life crisis, the feelings will pass with time.

If your feelings of sadness associated with your quarter-life crisis aren’t getting better, you may be struggling with depression. Depression is marked by persistent and ongoing feelings of sadness that aren’t going away. However, depression is treatable, and mental health professionals can help.

How To Deal with a Quarter-Life Crisis

Coping with a quarter-life crisis can feel difficult. So how can you deal with that much uncertainty? Some strategies can help!

Find the Joy

When was the last time you did something for fun? If you’re struggling with a quarter-life crisis, you might feel disconnected from hobbies or activities you enjoy.

Make time to reconnect with people and things you love. You may even want to find something new to try! Allow yourself to add positive experiences to your life.

Accept The Situation

Have you ever heard of radical acceptance? It is the practice of simply accepting reality as it is. Even in a quarter-life crisis, can you find a way to simply accept that you cannot fix the uncertainty right now?

You may even find joy in the freedom and flexibility that this period of change and transition allows!

Prioritize Self-Care

In this time of immense change, how can you take care of yourself? It can be helpful to identify simple self-care activities like drinking water or eating nourishing meals.

Final Thoughts

Early adulthood is marked by significant and frequent change. This transitional period is difficult for many, and you are not alone in this experience.

If you find that your feelings of anxiety or depression associated with your quarter-life crisis interfere with your life, it might be time to speak to a mental health professional. At The Resurface Group, we are here to support your growth and well-being. Contact us today to learn more.

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