What is the Quarter Life Crisis?

What Is The Quarter Life Crisis?

by Dr Emma Gray - 30th January, 2013

Quarter life Crisis
The quarter life crisis is a relatively new phenomenon that has been observed in young adults once they finish their formal education and are starting to live their lives independently of their parents. They are for the first time facing the experience of ‘standing on their own two feet’ and taking on all the ‘adult’ responsibilities that this involves. This time marks the completion of an individual’s transition from adolescent to adult and is a rite of passage that everyone must go through. The experience is rife with challenges; practical, social, financial, emotional and psychological and these will be negotiated more easily by some than others. Those individuals with a strong sense of self-worth, robust self-esteem and good support network will manage the transition with relative ease, however, without these personality traits and emotional and practical back up individuals will be vulnerable to developing a range of emotional and psychological problems. These fall into two main categories; anxiety related problems (e.g. stress, generalised anxiety, panic attack, eating disorders [anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder], obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD), and sleep disturbance) and mood related problems (e.g. depression, low self esteem and confidence).

Anxiety Related Problems
The development of anxiety related problems like panic attacks, stress, generalised anxiety and sleep disturbance are related to the increased expectations and responsibilities that young adults may face during this period of their lives. It is this combined with a tendency to overestimate the possibility of disasters and underestimate one’s ability to cope with these that lead to the development of mental health problems that an individual will need professional help to overcome. Currently the most effective treatment for such problems is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), best delivered by a Clinical or Counselling Psychologist.
The development of anxiety related problems including eating disorders [e.g. anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder] and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) are also related to increased expectations and responsibilities but these mental health problems arise as the a result of the individuals attempts to cope with the additional pressures and stresses. Again, currently the best way to resolve such psychological problems is a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) with a properly qualified mental health professional, ideally a Clinical or Counselling Psychologist.

Mood Related Problems
The development of mood related problems including depression and low self esteem and confidence is linked to the increased isolation and self doubt that may arise as a result of the challenges faced during this period. It is these experiences combined with a belief in one’s worthlessness and an expectation that others will negatively evaluated them and/or reject them that leads to the development of psychological problems that are diagnosable as clinically severe. Depression and low self esteem are rarely resolved without the assistance of a qualified mental health professional and research suggests that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy should be the first line treatment in these cases. Clinical and Counselling Psychologist have trained for between seven and ten years to deliver such treatments and so will be able to support individuals to resolves such problems quickly and effectively.

The British CBT & Counselling service is a team of Clinical and Counselling Psychologists with a proven record of helping people overcome their problems. Please contact us for more information and to make an appointment.


Dr Emma Gray

Dr Emma Gray

I am often the first person with whom my patients share significant and intimate thoughts and memories; I never take that privileged position for granted nor the opportunity to help someone to feel better about themselves and discover a more fulfilling life. One of my colleague once described me as natural psychologist; I guess she was alluding to the fact that I feel at ease being a therapist, I can empathise with people’s distress and discomfort but don’t feel overwhelmed by it, I can understand their problem and know how to help, it has always just felt like what I should be doing.


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