Existential Crisis: What It Is and How to Overcome It

An existential crisis is a period of inner conflict during which a person is distraught over questions about identity, meaning, and purpose. It’s a common experience that can affect anyone at any age, often triggered by difficult situations or the struggle to succeed. Stress, anxiety, despair, and depression are all common symptoms of an existential crisis, which can disturb one’s normal functioning in everyday life.

While an existential crisis can be a challenging experience, it’s essential to recognize that it’s a normal part of the human experience. Many people who have gone through an existential crisis come out the other side with a greater sense of purpose and direction. In this article, we’ll explore the symptoms, causes, and treatments of an existential crisis, as well as provide some tips for coping with this challenging experience.

Existential Crisis

Understanding Existential Crisis


An existential crisis is a period of intense self-reflection and questioning about the meaning and purpose of life. It is a common experience that can arise during change, uncertainty, or when facing significant life events. It is often associated with feelings of anxiety, confusion, and a sense of being lost or disconnected from oneself and the world around us.

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of an existential crisis can vary from person to person, but some common experiences include:

  • A sense of emptiness or meaninglessness
  • Questioning the purpose and value of life
  • Feelings of isolation or disconnection from others
  • A loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
  • Anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns
  • Difficulty making decisions or feeling overwhelmed by choices


Existential crises can be triggered by a variety of factors, including:

  • Major life changes, such as the loss of a loved one, a job, or a relationship
  • A sense of unfulfillment or dissatisfaction with one’s life
  • A lack of direction or purpose
  • Feeling disconnected from one’s values or beliefs
  • A desire for deeper meaning or understanding

It’s important to note that an existential crisis is not necessarily a negative experience. It can be an opportunity for growth and self-discovery, encouraging us to examine our beliefs, values, and priorities. Seeking support from a mental health professional or loved ones can help navigate this challenging time.

Impact of Existential Crisis

An existential crisis can have a significant impact on our mental health, relationships, and careers. Let’s explore these impacts in more detail.

On Mental Health

An existential crisis can cause a range of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and feelings of hopelessness. It can be a difficult time when we question the meaning and purpose of our lives. We may feel lost and unsure of who we are or what we want. This can lead to a sense of emptiness and a lack of motivation.

To cope with these feelings, it’s essential to seek help from a mental health professional. They can provide support and guidance as we work through our existential crisis. We may also find it helpful to engage in activities that bring us joy and a sense of purpose, such as volunteering or pursuing a hobby.

On Relationships

An existential crisis can also impact our relationships. We may feel disconnected from others and struggle to form meaningful connections. We may also question the value of our relationships and whether they are worth investing time and energy into.

To maintain healthy relationships during an existential crisis, it’s essential to communicate openly and honestly with our loved ones. We can share our thoughts and feelings and ask for their support. We may also need to take time for self-care and prioritize our needs.

On Career

An existential crisis can also impact our careers. We may question whether our current job aligns with our values and goals. We may also feel unfulfilled and unsatisfied in our work.

To navigate a career crisis, we may need to explore new opportunities and consider changing. This can be a difficult decision, but it’s essential to prioritize our well-being and pursue work that brings us meaning and purpose.

In conclusion, an existential crisis can have a significant impact on our mental health, relationships, and careers. We must seek help and support as we navigate this difficult time and prioritize our well-being.

Coping with Existential Crisis

When we experience an existential crisis, it can be overwhelming and challenging to cope with. However, there are therapeutic approaches and self-care strategies that can help us manage our feelings and find meaning in our lives.

Therapeutic Approaches

Therapy can be a helpful tool for coping with an existential crisis. Here are some therapeutic approaches that may be effective:

  • Existential therapy: This type of therapy focuses on helping individuals find meaning in their lives. It can help us explore our values, beliefs, and purpose and can provide a sense of direction and clarity.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT can help manage the negative thoughts and feelings that often accompany an existential crisis. It can help us identify and challenge our negative thought patterns and develop more positive and realistic ways of thinking.
  • Mindfulness-based therapy: Mindfulness can help us stay present in the moment and reduce anxiety and stress. Mindfulness-based therapy can teach us techniques to stay grounded and focused on the present rather than worrying about the future or dwelling on the past.

Self-Care Strategies

In addition to therapy, there are self-care strategies that we can use to cope with an existential crisis. Here are some examples:

  • Engage in activities that bring us joy: Doing things we enjoy can help us find meaning and purpose in our lives. Whether painting, hiking, or spending time with loved ones, engaging in activities that bring us joy can help us feel more fulfilled.
  • Practice self-reflection: Reflecting on our values, beliefs, and goals can help us find meaning and purpose. Journaling, meditating, or talking with a trusted friend or family member can be helpful for self-reflection.
  • Connect with others: Building meaningful connections can help us feel less alone and more connected to the world. Joining a support group, volunteering, or simply spending time with friends and family can provide comfort and support.

Coping with an existential crisis can be challenging, but with the right tools and strategies, we can find meaning and purpose in our lives.

Preventing Existential Crisis

As we go through life, we may encounter situations challenging our sense of purpose and meaning. While it’s normal to question our existence from time to time, experiencing an existential crisis can be overwhelming and disruptive to our mental health. Fortunately, there are steps we can take to prevent an existential crisis from occurring.

Building Resilience

Resilience is the ability to adapt to adversity and bounce back from difficult situations. Building resilience can help us cope with life’s challenges and prevent an existential crisis. Here are some ways to build resilience:

  • Practice self-care: Taking care of our physical and emotional needs can help us feel more resilient. This includes getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in activities that bring us joy.
  • Develop a growth mindset: A growth mindset is the belief that we can learn and grow from our experiences. Developing a growth mindset can help us see challenges as opportunities for growth rather than threats to our sense of self.
  • Seek support: A strong support system can help us feel more resilient. This includes friends, family, and mental health professionals.

Fostering Meaningful Connections

One of the critical factors in preventing an existential crisis is having meaningful connections with others. Here are some ways to foster meaningful connections:

  • Practice active listening: Active listening focuses entirely on what the other person is saying without interrupting or judging. This can help us build deeper connections with others.
  • Engage in shared activities: Engaging with others can help us build a sense of community and purpose. This could include volunteering, joining a club or organization, or participating in a hobby group.
  • Cultivate empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Cultivating empathy can help us build deeper connections with others and feel more fulfilled in our relationships.

By building resilience and fostering meaningful connections, we can prevent an existential crisis and live a more fulfilling life.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common signs of an existential crisis?

An existential crisis can manifest in many ways. Still, some common signs include feeling a lack of purpose or meaning in life, questioning one’s identity or values, feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of existence, and experiencing anxiety or depression. You may also find yourself questioning your beliefs or feeling disconnected from the world around you.

What are some ways to cope with an existential crisis?

There are several ways to cope with an existential crisis, including seeking therapy or counseling, practicing mindfulness or meditation, exploring new hobbies or interests, journaling, and talking to friends or loved ones. It’s important to remember that everyone copes differently, so what works for one person may not work for another.

Can an existential crisis be a positive experience?

While an existential crisis can be a difficult and unsettling experience, it can also be an opportunity for growth and self-discovery. By questioning our beliefs and values, we can gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and the world around us. Many people who have gone through an existential crisis report feeling more connected to their true selves and more fulfilled.

How can I help a friend or loved one going through an existential crisis?

If someone you know is going through an existential crisis, the best thing you can do is be there for them and provide a listening ear. Encourage them to seek professional help if necessary, and offer to accompany them to therapy sessions if they feel comfortable. It’s also important to avoid judgment or criticism and to validate their feelings and experiences.

What are some common triggers for an existential crisis?

There are many different triggers that can lead to an existential crisis, including major life changes such as the death of a loved one, a significant career change, or a health crisis. Other triggers may include a sense of boredom or stagnation in one’s life, a loss of faith or belief in one’s values, or simply a growing awareness of the impermanence of life.

What are some famous quotes about existential crisis?

Some famous quotes about existential crisis include:

  • “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” – Albert Camus
  • “The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent.” – Stanley Kubrick
  • “Existentialism is about being a saint without God; being your own hero, without all the sanction and support of religion or society.” – Anita Brookner


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