Depression is a very common diagnosis and a real challenge for many people- especially for women who are afraid of turning 30.
“Quarterlife crises don’t happen literally a quarter of the way through your life,” Dr. Oliver Robinson, of the University of Greenwich in London, told The Guardian. “They occur a quarter of your way through adulthood, in the period between 25 and 35, although they cluster around 30.”
As a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist, Shamanda Burton has seen thousands of patients who feel “stuck” or unhappy about entering this third decade of life. Here is her take on how to combat the fear of turning 30 and walk into this era with confidence.
Madame Noire (MN): What is it about turning 30 that makes women freak out?
Shamanda Burston (SB): Turning 30 is a very pivotal year for most women. By the age of 30 most women are married, have children, and have settled in their careers. Society has created a timeline that pressures women into believing we must have everything figured out and accomplished by this age. From a psychological perspective, women in their early twenties to middle thirties are in the Intimacy vs. Isolation stage of development. During this time, women are either focused on significant relationships, i.e family, companionship, marriage, or choose to focus on career and “singledom.” Choosing the latter can be considered failure to some and create a sense of panic in women turning 30.
MN: How does our culture and what we see on social media affect our perception of our own lives?
SB: This is the generation of social media and technology. Our lives can be crafted and presented in whichever way we decide to filter it via social media platforms. The idea of perfection is a façade and disillusionment. In our culture we tend to look to our female peers for validation and sense of self. Because most people tend to post the good aspects of their lives, many are left feeling a sense of lack and failure in comparison.
MN: What are some ways to combat self-loathing depression?
SB: The symptoms of depression such as an almost daily depressed mood, low energy, feeling helpless/hopeless and even experiencing suicidal ideation can be debilitating. A self-loathing mindset added to depressive symptoms worsens one’s mental health. Someone whom is self-loathing struggles to find the good in themselves. Effectively combating self-loathing depression starts with identifying triggers or causes of depressive episodes, daily positive affirmations via journaling/writing, engaging with supportive family and friends, and of course engaging in counseling to address underlying issues.
MN: How do you know if your mid-life crisis is more severe than just feeling “down”?
SB: There appears to be a thin line between feeling “down” and the dreaded mid-life crisis. First, a crisis is subjective and defined as “a time of intense difficulty, trouble or danger.” According to research, women experience mid-life crises between the ages of 35-44. During a mid-life crisis, women tend to feel a lack of purpose and direction, a desire and need to change aspects of themselves, like lose weight, change hair color, change careers and impulsively quit jobs, etc. Mid-life crises are typically triggered by significant life events such as aging, death of parents, children leaving for college, and/or divorce. A mid-life crisis becomes more than a normal life transition period when one begins to experience depressive symptoms including extreme change in mood, eating patterns, loss of weight, decreased energy, and especially suicidal ideation.
MN: It seems the stigma is disappearing and mental health awareness in the Black community is becoming more acceptable to talk about openly. What do you think has caused this shift?
SB: Increasingly, our culture is becoming more cognizant and aware of how life changes and challenges can affect our mental and physical health. Seeking professional help via therapy is a sign of strength and self-love. We deserve to live our best life! My goal is to always “help people, help themselves.”
Shamanda Burston is global entrepreneur who inspires every woman with the simple message of “stay encouraged”. You can follow her on Instagram @shamndaburston.