As you know, we've devoted this month to talking about mental health problems and struggles in life, during every age stage. We started with teenagers, then moved on the 20s and now it's time for 30s. I think this is probably one of the most challenging phases mentally, so it is important to shed light as much as possible on the common mental health issues and struggles in the 30s and what can help...
Note: Your thirties are not the end of the world, age is really just a number. Whatever dreams or aspirations you have can still happen, and the life you want to live is more than possible. Stop running and looking at the time. Do not let the words and negativity around you affect you.
The most common mental health problems and challenges in your 30s:
1. The pressures of romantic relationships
Yes, love and relationships can be stressful at any age, but it is very different in the thirties. At this point, women think that they 'getting old' and they feel pressured to start taking serious steps and commitments in the romantic lives. Society puts a lot of pressure on women to be in serious relationships at a certain age, even if that doesn't fit their life at the moment. So women tend to feel torn between caving to that and following her dreams, ambitions, and the life she wants for herself right now. After that, romantic relationships, which are supposed to be associated with joy and comfort, turn into a huge emotional baggage and pressure. This unfortunately can sometimes lead to depression, which we'll be discussing further.
What to do: Of course we are not professionals, specialists or doctors, but we try to help in any way we can through experiences and research. We can only tell you that you have your whole life ahead of you and there is no such thing as missing the 'marriage train'. Get married only when you feel ready and when you find a partner that deserves you and will allow you to live and lead the life you want, without sacrificing your dreams. This is your life and no one else will live it. If you feel like the pressure is really getting you and it's becoming too much, affecting your mental health, it would really help to talk to a professional counselor or therapist.
2. Feeling lonely
Loneliness is very common among women during this age, due to the many changes that they go through. It does not stop at being married, but it has to do more with the nature of life. It is normal on your journey to the 30s to lose friends, loved ones and perhaps even places that brought your comfort. So you may feel alone, but this is not true.
What to do: We shape our lives with our own hands. So if you feel alone, go out, meet new people, the world is huge and full of people you can connect with. Go to new places, where you can find warm spaces that makes you feel joy and comfort. Learn to love your own company and your time by yourself.
3. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
One of the problems that women experience from their late twenties to the end of their thirties is premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD. It's like PMS, but a lot more severe. It is usually due to hormonal changes in the body or a family history with depression. And usually the symptoms are extreme irritability, anxiousness and depression. Also, an increase in pain and cramps, instant changes in your mood, frustration and the inability to go about normal activities.
What to do: Make an appointment with your gynecologist, and talk about what you're going through, so you can check your hormone levels and they can give your the right way to handle it.
4. Extreme anxiety about everything
Some women in their 30s start getting worried and anxious about everything. They think their life has passed and that they missed on so much that they could have done. If they're not married, they believe that their chance to start a life and a family has become miniscule. Also if they want to change their career, they feel like the opportunity has passed them. If they get married they start getting worried about pregnancy and having children. And if they're financially independent, they start worrying about everything. What will happen if I quit my job? How do I secure my future? All of these questions and fears can strongly affect their mental health and develop high levels of anxiety.
What to do: Fear and anxiety will not change anything but only make things worse. I know that it's easier said than done, but how about forgetting about your age? Grab a pen and paper and write down your past accomplishments, no matter how small you think they are. You feel proud of what you've achieved and what you still can. Do you worry about your health? Follow up with a doctor frequently to put your mind at ease. What I mean to say is try to live in the present moment. You can't change the past, you can only try to see the bright side of it and hopefully start working towards the future you wish to have. But don't add any pressure on yourself. Take your time and work at your own pace. Now is the most important.
5. Feeling constantly stress and exhausted
In our 30s we're fighting for a lot of things. We want a stable and successful career, a wonderful family, happy partnership and a social life. We also want good skin, soft and a healthy body. We want everything and so we're constantly on run, criticizing ourselves when we're unable to check all the boxes. Therefore, we get extremely physically and emotionally exhausted.
What to do: Priorities vary from one person to the next. You don't have to be perfect at everything all the time. That's impossible, exhausting and won't make you happy. You're also not supposed to be like anyone else. Try to not compare your life to others because we only see a fraction of what's real and you only need to be your own self and do what you are able to at the moment.
After all that we've talked about, it makes sense that depression can be very common at this stage in life, if those factors increase. Loneliness, fatigue, anxiety, stress, anger and self blame can gradually lead to depression. It is very common in the thirties because it's a new stage, in which the nature of our body, lives and hormones make it difficult to function and withstand these changes.
What to do: With depression please do not hesitate to see someone. Depression is really serious and can get really bad If you don't work on healing. There is no shame in that, and it doesn't mean you're weak. We all need some help to get through struggles and with therapy you will lead the way and do the work to help yourself feel better.