I always love seeing the light in a woman’s eyes when she has a positive and vibrant attitude about aging. The truth is, the majority of women are fearful about aging. I have also discovered that many women are depressed because they 1) have some misconceptions about what it means to grow older or 2) feel time has passed them by and it’s too late to achieve their dreams.
Depression is very real and can prevent us from maximizing our potential and living a full and productive life. Physical appearance, finances and health, range amongst the top shared fears that women have about aging. Still a woman may not openly discuss her concerns with anyone. Not even her closest friend. For decades depression has carried such a terrible social stigma. That, combined with the fact that the majority of women believe depression to be a natural part of aging, leaves far too many women to suffer in silent despair.
While she may not be direct with you about her feelings, there are a few signs you can be on the lookout for. Depression can manifest itself in many ways, including anxiety, loss of weight, loss of hair, overeating, not eating, lack of sleeping, or too much sleep. Also, listen carefully to her words. Depression is often masked behind phrases like, “I’m just going through some things right now,” “I’m just feeling a little down in the dumps,” or “ I’ve just got a lot going on.”
If you’ve never experienced depression yourself you may not fully understand what your friend is feeling. Don’t beat yourself up about what to say or what not to say. A compassionate listening ear is more priceless than a thousand words. She may feel like cutting herself off from you and everyone else around her, but be patient and continue to be a friend. Get together with a group of girlfriends and amp up the fun factor. Share stories, encouragement and most of all laughter. Humor is to depression what kryptonite is to Superman. If she seems to be getting worse or you think she might be in danger of harming herself, don’t worry about whether or not she’ll be angry with you, speak up and insist she get some help.
Watching a friend suffer can make you feel helpless. But with a little support and understanding you can be the catalyst to turn those grey clouds into blue skies again.