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Midlife Well-being Revolves Around Sustaining Close Friendships

Update Date: Aug 24, 2012 12:34 PM EDT

Everyone has heard of the Mid-Life Crisis: that point in your life when you realize that you are not technically young anymore (although youth is a very relative and subjective notion that involves more than just years). So, the next step is compensation. Men try to make up for it with pretty cars and fast women and women adopt a restless craving to realize their potential or true identity . So what should we do about it?

A new study published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health finds that the midlife well-being of both men and women seems to depend on having a wide circle of friends whom can act as a dependable support system.

Involving more than 6,500 Britons born in 1958, the authors show that while a network of close relatives can have an impact on men especially, a circle of close friends can benefit men and women equally.

At the age of 42, participants completed a validated questionnaire to gauge their psychological well-being and provide details of their partnership and job status, as well as the age at which they left full time education. All questions were modeled to predict the size and make-up of their social networks.

The study found that,

"One in seven said they had no contacts with relatives outside their immediate household and around one in 10 said they had no friends. Four out of 10 men and around one in three women said they had more than six friends whom they saw regularly.

The results showed a significant association between the number of friends and psychological well-being, the impact of which was greater for women.

"Compared with those with 10 or more regular contacts, smaller networks of friends at the age of 45 were associated with significantly lower levels of psychological well-being for both sexes."

According to the report British Medical Journal, the findings were consistent irrespective of whether the participants had a partner/job or had had any mental health issues in the past.

Perhaps more glaring was that, for women, lack of friends had an even greater impact on their mental well being, while a lack of relatives had little to know emotional impact.

It is redundant but important to note that both systems of support should be sustained. 

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