Mental health issues in your 30s: What you need to know
Recognizing and addressing your mental health has always been important, but over the past few decades more and more people are taking that to heart. When you go for your annual check-up, your doctor is most likely checking in on your mental well-being as well as your physical well-being.
Now, we know that good overall health takes a holistic approach and considers our physical state as well as our mental and emotional state.
Mental health is now seen as just as important as our physical health and taking care of your mind is a normal part of the question to be healthy.
But as we age, the mental health issues that we face change—life’s stressors, risks, and challenges shift and it is important to be aware of the different issues that may arise.
For a lot of people, turning 30 is more than just another birthday—turning 30 signifies the end of your young adulthood and societal push towards becoming a “real adult”. Entering this new decade can feel overwhelming as the pressures of having a career, family, and plan in place start to weigh on you. This of course can take a toll on your mental health.
Adults in their 30s are susceptible to a variety of mental health problems. They are the highest age group to self-report feeling that their mental health is poor, with 13.2% of Canadians ages 30-34 saying their mental health isn’t where they want it to be in 2020.
As you enter your 30s, it is important to be aware of the mental health issues that can affect people in your age group.
Depression is a complex mood disorder that can be triggered by a variety of factors, including genetic predisposition, personality, stress, and brain chemistry. And contrary to what some people may think, depression is not the same as being unhappy—it is not something that a person can “get over” without professional help. Canadians in their 30s are reporting depression at an alarming rate. In 2022, a study conducted by Mental Health Research Canada (pdf) found that those aged 35-39 were experiencing depression at the highest rate in Canada—19%—while 17% of those aged 30-34 reported feelings of depression.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a mental health issue characterized by worrying excessively and uncontrollably about day-to-day events and activities. There are physical symptoms that often accompany GAD and other anxiety disorders. It is not uncommon for people experiencing anxiety to also experience fatigue and trouble sleeping, which can ultimately lead to other physical and mental issues. During the pandemic, 13.6% of Canadians experienced GAD, with women being more affected than men (17.2% versus 9.9%). Another study (pdf) found that 27% of Canadians aged 30-39 reported experiencing anxiety during 2022.
From financial stress to work stress to family stress, Canadians in their 30s are no stranger to this feeling. It becomes a part of their daily routine as their list of responsibilities continues to grow and grow. Thirty-six percent of Canadians aged 35-39 reported feeling like most days are stressful or extremely stressful. Our American counterparts aren’t faring much better in their 30s, with one study finding 36 to be the most stressful age in the US.
Stress’s side-kick, burnout, is another mental health issue characterized by complete emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion that occurs when a person is exposed to stress for extended periods daily. As 30-year-olds dig into their careers, burnout becomes an ever-present danger. Eighty-four percent of Canadian workers have experienced burnout because of increased workload, mental health challenges, and insufficient compensation. Canadians in their 30s are more likely to experience burnout, feel disconnected from their workplace, and dislike their work — 51% said they don’t particularly enjoy what they do (pdf).
Postpartum depression and anxiety
While postpartum depression and anxiety don’t exclusively affect women in their 30s, the average age of childbirth in Canada is 31.3 years old. Twenty-three percent of new mothers in Canada report feelings consistent with postpartum depression. Covid-19 added a new layer of anxiety for a lot of Canadian moms. Thirty-one percent of new mothers (pdf) with children between the ages of 0-1 year reported experiencing high anxiety compared to 12% having high anxiety pre-pandemic.
Signs of mental health issues to look out for
Mental health is something that should always be on your radar. And while we can do everything in our power to protect our good mental health, it is also important to know the warning signs of mental health disorders to be able to react — and get help — quickly. Some of the signs of mental health issues you can look for are:
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Changes in mood including anger, sadness, or irritability
- Unusual or out-of-character behaviour
- Memory loss
- Withdrawal from their usual routine
- Increased dependence on drugs or alcohol
- Sudden weight gain or loss
If you have concerns about your mental well-being — or the mental well-being of someone you love — contact a doctor and ask for an evaluation.
If you are in need of mental health support in Canada, these resources can help:
Kids Help Phone
Text Services: Text "CONNECT" to 686868 (also serving adults)
Chat Services: https://kidshelpphone.ca/live-chat/
Crisis Services Canada
Toll Free (24/7): 1 (833) 456-4566
Text support (4pm-12am ET daily): 45645
Canadian Crisis Hotline
1 (888) 353-2273
The LifeLine App
Please always check with a medical professional to ensure these strategies are right for you.
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