What is an existential crisis?

What is an existential crisis?

An existential crisis refers to feeling uneasy about the meaning, choice, and freedom of life. Whether it is called an existential crisis or an existential anxiety, the main worry is the same: life is essentially meaningless, our existence is meaningless, because it has limits or boundaries, we must all die one day.

Survival anxiety often appears during the transition period, reflecting difficulties in adapting, and is usually related to loss of security.For example, a college student running away from home or an adult experiencing a difficult divorce may feel that the foundation of their life seems to be collapsing. This may lead to questioning the meaning of their existence.

For existentialists, the existential crisis is considered a journey, a consciousness, a necessary experience, and a complex phenomenon. It stems from the knowledge of your own freedom and how your life will end one day.

Recognizing existential crisis

During an existential crisis, a person may experience various symptoms, including:

Survival crises usually occur after major life events, such as:

  • Career or job change
  • Death of a loved one
  • Diagnosis of serious or life-threatening illness
  • Enter an important age category, such as 40, 50, or 65
  • Go through a tragic or traumatic experience
  • have kids
  • Married or divorced

People with the following mental health conditions may also be more prone to survival crisis; although these diseases do not cause survival crisis:

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“Survival crisis” is a general term that can be used to describe or combine multiple types of problems.

Fear and responsibility

Existentialism emphasizes that we all have the freedom to make choices in life. With this freedom of choice, responsibility will follow. However, considering the ultimate fate of death, your actions may seem meaningless from the overall picture of your life.

In this way, freedom leads to despair, and the responsibility that this freedom brings can lead to anxiety. How many times have you struggled with a decision and worried that it was wrong? The fear of making the wrong choice reflects the anxiety about freedom associated with existentialism.

Existentialists believe that the reason we have this anxiety or anxiety is because there is no “right” path, and there is no guide to tell us what to do. Essentially, each of us must create meaning in our lives. If this sense of responsibility is too great, we may fall back to a way of behavior that can protect us from this anxiety.

The meaning of life

If you are struggling with existential anxiety, you may ask: “What is the meaning of life?” When you experience changes in life and lose the sense of security in familiar environments and structures, you may question the meaning of life. The result is that you are dead. Why go through the scene?

French philosopher, journalist, and writer Albert Camus believes that the ability to be passionate about a life that might otherwise be considered meaningless reflects an appreciation of life itself. If you can stop living for the end or “goal” and start living for the “existence” itself, then your life will become fulfilled, choose integrity, and be full of passion. This sounds like the basis of mindfulness meditation in the medical model of anxiety.


An existential crisis may drive you toward reality, and it may also cause anxiety. You may have ideas about the fleetingness of your existence and how you live. When you no longer take it for granted that you will be alive when you wake up every day, you may feel anxious, but it also has a deeper meaning.

You may notice that all the everyday worldly problems that trouble you seem to be no longer important. All worldly thoughts, fears and anxiety are gone because you are facing a bigger problem.

Does it matter at the end of your life? Does it matter what career you choose, how much money you have, or what car you drive?

Important life event or life stage

Many people experience survival crises when transitioning to a new stage of life, such as from childhood to adulthood or from adulthood to old age. Major life events, including graduation, starting a new job or changing careers, marriage or divorce, childbirth, and retirement, can also bring survival crises.

Death and disease

The loss of a partner, parent, sibling, child or other relatives often forces people to face their own deaths and question the meaning of their lives. Similarly, if you are facing a serious or life-threatening illness, you may experience an existential crisis that makes you feel overwhelmed by death and the meaning of life.

Techniques for overcoming existential anxiety

Given that existential anxiety is related to the recognition of the ultimate limits of life, namely death and opportunity, this type of anxiety can be regarded as inevitable, rather than pathological. Because of this, each of us must find a way to “endure” this anxiety, rather than eliminate it—or existentialists think.

There are both beneficial and unhelpful methods to deal with survival crises. One is to choose not to live at all or to give up life. The second is that you are so obsessed with daily distractions that you live an unreal life. It is said that this will not leave any room for existential anxiety, nor will it leave room for real life.

In essence, this is a maladaptive coping or avoidance strategy. Do you know how many people “keep their eyes open” throughout their lives and never look at the big picture?

But experiencing an existential crisis can also be positive. It can force you to question your life goals and help provide direction. The following can help make existential crisis a positive experience for you or your loved one:

  • write down. Can you let this existential anxiety inspire you and lead you to a more real life? What can this anxiety teach you about your relationship with the world? Take out your notebook and write down your thoughts on these issues. It is in the answers to these questions that you will find a way to deal with an existential crisis.
  • Seek support. Talking to your loved ones about your existential anxiety can help you gain a different perspective on life and remind you of your positive impact on their lives. Ask them to help you determine your most positive and admirable qualities.
  • Try to meditate. Meditation can help you replace negative thoughts and help prevent the anxiety and compulsive worries associated with survival crises.


The term “existential crisis” is derived from existential philosophy, which focuses on the meaning and purpose of existence from the perspective of the whole and the individual.

Existentialists view anxiety in a different way from psychiatrists and psychologists. They don’t see anxiety as a problem that must be solved, but as an inevitable part of life that everyone experiences. It is a positive thing that can teach us important lessons about life.

They regard the ultimate concern of life as death, freedom, isolation and meaninglessness. People think that these worries cause fear and anxiety, because we can never be sure that our choice is correct. Once we make a choice, we must reject other choices.

In 1844, the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard wrote: “Whoever learns to be anxious in the right way will learn the ultimate.”This expresses the idea that existential anxiety transcends the fear of daily troubles.


Although there is no specific treatment for existential anxiety, some treatments may be helpful. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication can help resolve symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems that may accompany anxiety (including suicidal thoughts).of

Talking with professionals can be very helpful in reducing anxiety. If you find yourself struggling with survival anxiety, whether due to a transition or a life-changing event, self-care methods that focus on finding meaning may also help.