According to Elliot Jaques, the man who coined the term "midlife crisis," it is a period where people come face-to-face with their limitations, restricted possibilities and mortality. It happens during a person's midlife transition where they realize that their life is likely to be more than halfway over.
The term "midlife crisis" is gradually being called the midlife transition as the word "crisis" does not always fit the situation. While many people suffer from depression through this time, it can also be liberating and become a period of growth for people. It is not a formal type of diagnosis for someone's behavior and does not always come at the same age. A midlife crisis might occur anywhere between the ages of 37 and 50.
The midlife crisis can be brought on by many different events in a person's life, such as the death of his or her parents, a child finishing college or even a birthday that takes the person into a new decade. It also affects people in different ways with many men often looking to validate their career and wishing to look successful while many women who did not have a work career may look inward to focus on being a good mother or wife.