Feeling a mid-life crisis coming on? Take another look at the state of your social life and consider striking up more friendships, as a new study has found that the key to mid-life well-being is having a wide circle of friends and seeing them regularly.
Published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the study out of the UK found a direct correlation between psychological well-being and the size of a person's support network and social life.
Information was collected from 6,500 Britons all born in 1958, at different stages of their middle years: 42, 45 and 50.
Some of the interesting findings included a link between education level and kinship and gender divides. Staying on in full-time education beyond the age of 16 may reduce the size of men's friendship networks, for example, but it increased the size of a woman's social network by up to 74 percent if they left after the age of 20.
Naturally, having a partner was also associated with a larger network of family members -- a particularly important factor for men whose psychological well-being was lower when they had no relatives.
By comparison, a lack of relatives beyond their own immediate household made little emotional impact on a woman's mental health, whereas a lack of girlfriends played a big role in eroding their psychological well-being, the study found.
Social activity was defined as seeing a family member or friend regularly, at least once a month or more.
Overall, 1 in 7 participants said they had no contact with relatives outside their own family, and 1 in 10 said they had no friends.
Four out of 10 men and 1 in 3 women said they had more than six friends they saw regularly.
The British study isn't the first to emphasize the importance of adult friendships. An Australian study even found that a thriving social life can lengthen a person's lifespan, after studying seniors living in community and residential care facilities.