Mid-life crisis now begins at 35

IT USED to be that 35 was a good age to be, on a par with the ever-youthful looking Angelina Jolie and David Beckham, and with plenty of time still left to party before middle age set in.

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But new research suggests those about to turn 35 should prepare for the most miserable decade of their life, with relationships breaking down, work hassles, money worries - and a mid-life crisis about to strike.

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While the mid-life crisis has always been linked to those approaching 50 who exhibit a sudden desire to dress younger, buy a red sports car and go clubbing, new research shows this phenomenon is now happening up to 15 years earlier than before.

The 35-44 age group has come out worst in a new report, The Way We Are Now - the first definitive study into the state of the UK's relationships, carried out jointly by Relate, the marriage guidance and counselling service, and TalkTalk, the telephone and broadband firm.

People in this age range are revealed as being the loneliest of any age group, with more than one in five (21 per cent) saying they feel lonely a lot of the time, compared with 13 per cent of pensioners aged 65 or above who are traditionally assumed to be isolated.

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Work was also problematic for the younger group, with 28 per cent saying they had left a job because of a bad relationship with a colleague or employer - the highest in any age group. Almost a third wanted to cut their working hours; again the highest in any age group.

Their love life fared no better - 22 per cent had suffered depression because of a bad relationship and 40 per cent had been cheated on by a partner.

Tristia Clarke, commercial director of TalkTalk, said: "People in their late 30s and early 40s are a time-poor generation. Long hours at work mean they have less time to spend face-to-face with friends and family, so they are shifting to newer communications methods to fill the gap.

"Our report reveals just how deep many of the problems in our personal and professional relationships are."

Psychologist Mark Millard said there were various steps people in this age group could take to increase their happiness.

"At one end of the scale, I think people should do something every day which makes them feel good," he said. "At the other end of the scale, we are looking at issues which are more like existential angst and which are rather more difficult but not impossible to tackle.

"I would recommend trying to be quite precise about what's disturbing you and then try to pin it down.Finally, if relationships with partners and friends are going wrong or are non-existent, find new activities to do with other people - groups can provide you with the support you need."