Midlife crisis hitting 30-something singletons, experts say

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Forget the midlife crisis -- it's now hitting a decade earlier.

Thirty-something singletons are increasingly seeking therapy after reaching a fork in the road and reassessing their lives.

Women in particular can see 30 as a deadline to have a successful career, perfect husband and children, Australian experts say.

Melbourne counselor and psychotherapist Dr. Paul Cullen has noticed a "phenomenon" of clients aged 28-32 who were mainly single and despairing that their lives lack meaning.

Some were making big decisions such as ditching highly-paid jobs for more community-minded vocations.

The growing trend to delay marriage and children can now extend the shelf life of being single into the 30s, leaving many feeling isolated and unfulfilled.

"I call it the 30-crisis, it's a different beast than the midlife crisis," Cullen said.

"The questions that people come in with might be, 'I'm in IT earning $130,000 a year but why am I doing this? I'm going to be 40 soon what's my life going to look like?'

"People might live alone in a city studio, and live an isolated existence -- go to work, come home, watch DVDs. In the past, we knew our neighbors and may have had different generations of family around us.

"There are plus sides to having more choices in life, but people coming in to therapy are finding it hard to navigate that."

Demographer Bernard Salt said many people, especially men, suffered "responsibility anxiety" when they hit their 30s.

"They were footloose and fancy-free in their 20s, the indulged generation, then they find themselves staring down the barrel of a mortgage, commitment, career, and there's some anxiety," he said.

"Previous generations were quite attuned to that, they didn't know any different. But I would argue that midlife is more likely viewed as 55 than 45 now and this is more of a milestone crisis."

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