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On air: Do you expect too much from life?

Ben Sutherland Ben Sutherland | 14:30 UK time, Thursday, 30 September 2010

Angry man

This topic was discussed on World Have Your Say on 30 September 2010. Listen to the programme.

A large number of people in the UK are suffering an early midlife crisis, according to research by the counselling service Relate - indeed, a fifth of those aged 35-44 are lonely or suffering depression.

Of the 2,000 people asked, more aged 35 to 44 said that they felt lonely or depressed than in other age groups.

And four in 10 people in that age group had been cheated on by their partner, which can't be improving matters.

The stereotypical midlife crisis is supposed to occur in the late 40s and early 50s, and in men comes complete with sportscar, younger girlfriend and the taking up of a musical instrument - as lampooned in this excellent ad for VW cars from a few years back.

So where's the misery coming from? More and more all people, rich and poor, men and women, are encouraged to chase their dreams, but can this only end in great disappointment. Not everyone can win The X-Factor or Australia's Next Top Model.

According to the survey, it's to do with a feeling of not having enough time for friends and family, with the need to work completely dominating.

This is only likely to get worse as the global recession continues, says Cary Cooper, the president of the charity and a researcher in work stress at Lancaster University:

"We're already working the longest hours in Europe - if you constantly work people long hours it's not good for their health. The annual cost of work-related mental health problems is estimated at £28bn, so it's clearly a massive problem."

So is the recession causing the depression?

When we asked on World Have Your Say if you are afraid of getting old, we had a number of responses saying that it was the "baby boomer" generation who were the happiest they have ever been - securely in good houses that they bought when the market was low, and now about to start collecting excellent pensions.

And who's paying for all that, asked people like Bob Howes:

The "baby boom" is coming back to bite and there are now too few people joining the scheme to make up for the baby boomers who are hitting retirement age.

Meanwhile, women and if they are told they can have a career and a family but many discover one of those has to be compromised. While promoting gender equality, do we also need to give realistic messages, or will this just discourage ambition?

So are you suffering from a mid-life crisis where you are? Do you think the UK survey is reflected worldwide? Are you happy - or do you think the baby boomers are happier?


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