Now "midlife crisis" hits in our 30s: survey

Wed Sep 29, 2010 6:56am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Britons in their late 30s and early 40s are unhappier than any other age group, suffering from loneliness and depression as work and relationship pressures take their toll, according to a survey on Wednesday.

The research, by relationship advice charity Relate, found a fifth of those aged 35 to 44 wished they had a better relationship with their family, with nearly a third saying these relationships would improve if they could work fewer hours.

More than 20 percent of that age group said they felt lonely a lot of the time and 5 percent said they had no friends at all.

"Traditionally we associate the midlife crisis with people in their late 40s to 50s, but the report reveals that this period could be reaching people earlier than we would expect" said Claire Tyler, chief executive of Relate.

"It's when life gets really hard -- you're starting a family, pressure at work can be immense and increasingly money worries can be crippling."

Relate found that 22 percent of 35 to 44-year-olds had suffered depression because of a bad relationship, and 40 percent had been cheated on by a partner.

The survey of 2,004 adults showed that, across all age groups, money worries and redundancies were the biggest strain on people's relationships with their partners, while communication problems, working long hours and the division of housework also put pressure on couples.

The ways in which people communicate with their friends and family have changed with the growth of modern technology, the survey found, with emails and text messages more popular than face-to-face communication for staying in touch with friends.

A quarter of parents said they used social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace to keep in contact with their children, while one in 10 parents said they had no face to face contact with their children at all.

Relationships with dads have particularly suffered from changes to family structures, the charity said, with a third of dads who are divorced or separated never seeing their children, compared to 10 percent of mums.

(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Steve Addison)

<p>Commuters struggle through heavy rain and strong winds across London Bridge to the city of London in this March 10, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Stephen Hird</p>