It’s not abnormal to feel that you are unsure of whether you are on the right track in your life.
Even more than that, it is absolutely logical.
You’ve probably wondered many times whether you are making correct choices on your career path or in relationships with partners.
We should say that in many cases, this feeling of uncertainty actually helps you to arrive at more sound and informed decisions.
Nevertheless, when this kind of problem becomes particularly urgent and unbearable, you may start feeling really overwhelmed and frustrated.
That’s where such serious disorder as an existential crisis comes into play.
You might have heard how some famous representatives of the entertainment industry are making fun of this serious problem, and there is nothing bad about it.
After all, humor is a splendid way to combat various mental troubles including existential depression, especially if no other method has worked.
Laughing about your fears together with your close ones is a way to turn the problem into a not very serious experience that you will sooner or later sort out.
However, this is only a temporary way but eventually, you might need to find a really helpful solution to this trouble.
So, how can you combat this problem in the most effective manner?
First, you should get an idea of how this disorder is defined.
How Do Researchers of Existential Crisis Define It?
Psychologists who study the problem of existential crisis often characterize it as the major turning point in your life.
That’s a moment when you will be searching for the meaning of people’s existence trying to understand what you are living for.
This traumatic period may occur if you experience long-term and acute stress, or face some really hard decision.
However, it may also occur when you are leading a quiet and trouble-free life so that it seems as if your existence lacks meaning and you feel as if you are separated from the people surrounding you.
However, even if you have lived through the existential crisis previously, it doesn’t indicate that you will never face this problem once more.
That’s because we live in a quick-paced world, and everyone may face previously solved problems again.
This is normal, and it just shows that your life does not stand still but is subject to changes.
Existential Crisis Definition Explained
If to provide a more specific definition of such term as an existential crisis, it can be said that it’s a special and difficult period in one’s life.
This is when you reconsider your life views, personal values, your mission and the actual meaning of life.
Such important life questions are most often provoked by some really traumatic event that a person has had to live through, and that’s why his/her current values and beliefs about life have been severely shattered.
When we notice that our life goes by really fast, we start thinking that we are unable to control the majority of life problems and all those things that happen in our life.
And obviously, this is not something that will let us calm down.
That’s why the feeling of anxiety keeps building inside us, and then it reaches its peak and turns into a psychological problem which psychologists have named existential crisis.
In this regard, it is vital to understand that not all turning points in our lives actually result in an existential crisis.
That’s because the modern-day life is filled with numerous stressful moments and situations which have long become a norm of our existence.
But most problems are temporary and can be resolved over time.
However, if the problem persists for longer and forces us to start feeling that our existence is meaningless and empty, we begin to have doubts about our place in this world.
All this may cause severe mental distress that we know as the existential crisis.
Signs and Symptoms of Disorder
Existential distress is a serious period in everyone’s life as it is accompanied by both physical and mental changes.
What are the key symptoms of this disorder?
If a person has deeply immersed in the existential depression, he/she will most probably have the following signs of this disorder:
- Immense interest in the real meaning of human life and death.
This curiosity may interfere with the person’s involvement in some important daily activities;
- Intense distress and a feeling of extreme sadness and anxiety in relation to the major problems of society and life in general;
- The strong belief that nothing can be changed in the surrounding world and all efforts are in vain;
- A feeling of separation from the rest of the people;
- Decreased motivation and lack of desire to do the things that a person would usually be interested in;
- Breaking relations with others because they seem to lack any meaning as if a person occupies an entirely different position in life and does not want to have any connections with others;
- Thoughts about suicide;
- Asking questions about the purpose and meaning of everything that exists in this life.
These symptoms are rather serious and should not be treated as a temporary problem that does not require a solution.
You should not wait until the problem subsides on its own because it may cause serious and sometimes life-threatening outcomes.
As a rule, such a problem as existential depression does not disappear on its own accord but requires long-term treatment and professional help.
Types of Existential Depression
In fact, the existential crisis may take different forms. Some of the widespread life scenarios include the following:
Starting a New Page in Your Life
People who go through the following life phases might start asking such questions as who they are and what they live their lives for.
This could happen when:
- Graduating from a higher educational establishment;
- Reaching the age of 25;
- Crossing the middle age period;
- Facing retirement.
All these life stages can be perceived as critical points in the life of each person, and they may provoke serious changes in one’s personality and often lead to the inception of existential crisis.
Changes in Family or Important Events in Relationships
Life-changing events may also provoke the existential crisis.
Among others, the causes of existential distress may include the following:
- Breakup with a partner;
- Giving birth to a child;
- The situation when kids leave parents’ home;
- Moving to some other city;
- Having doubts in relation to one’s career path, etc.
The last two situations often produce the greatest impact on the life of a person.
No matter whether you quit the previous place of employment or start a different job or even reconsider your career as a whole, you may face the existential crisis.
In this case, you will be questioning the meaning of your current job and you may even start asking yourself whether you have made the right decision by choosing this particular profession.
The same may occur when you are moving to another place of residence, especially if it is another state.
The very process of moving to another home and getting used to your new life in another place may provoke the existential crisis.
Besides, leaving the place where you have spent a good portion of your life may also be traumatic and may provoke psychological distress.
All these factors are the major causes of existential depression that are usually temporary but may still require professional assistance.
How to Effectively Deal with Existential Crisis
It comes as no surprise that if you experience never-ending stress and a feeling of frustration, it can prevent you from being satisfied with your life and feeling happy about your life course.
So, how to rescue yourself from the state of constant gloominess and darkness inside?
Fortunately, psychologists have made up many methods, and there are multiple things that you can undertake to save yourself from this trouble.
What we all should do is learn how to fight anxiety.
The best method to achieve this is to understand that stress is an ordinary part of your life.
To manage the gloomy thoughts, you need to acknowledge them and try to transform them into a positive experience.
Here are a few effective ways that can help you live through the hard periods in your life:
Find new meaning in your life.
Looking for meaning is not something abnormal as we all strive for filling our lives with some important events and leaving a trace behind us after we leave this world;
- Restore a feeling of connection with the world and add meaning to your daily activities by making yourself useful;
- Keep a diary where you’ll remind yourself of what you have already achieved and which events have transformed your existence for the better;
- Don’t try to answer all big questions about your life and its meaning.
If you do, you’ll put too much pressure on yourself and end up feeling disappointed so don’t try to find a versatile solution to everything in this world;
- It is also important to stay connected with other people or try to restore these connections in order to cope with your mental distress in a more effective way.
These are only a few ways of how you can combat the problem of acute distress and finally overcome your existential crisis.
But don’t forget that some situations may be hard to resolve on your own and may, therefore, require expert help.
Just keep yourself as busy as possible and try to get engaged in such an important mission as helping people around you and living your life happily without thinking of your future or regretting your past.
This will definitely help you to finally break free from this very dark period in your life.