Coping with the depression of turning 30 (A step by step guide)

This article will act as a guide to cope with the depression of turning 30 without completely freaking out about having to deal with the stress and anxiety that comes with it. 

Is the depression of turning 30 a thing?

Birthdays are all fun and games until one day you wake up and realize it’s your 30th birthday and suddenly the world looks a little less colorful, the excitement of a birthday party fades away and you want to sulk alone in what seems like will be an everlasting depressive episode. 

Every decade of life brings a realization. Turning 10 is the first time you refer to your age in double digits and is the beginning of your teen years. Transition to 20 brings abou1t abrupt changes in your life. You start thinking about your studies, future and start wondering where you will be in 10 years. Fast forward to your 30th birthday, where you feel like your life is falling apart and death has cast its shadow over you. You feel like your life has come to an end when in reality it’s just the end of what you would call your days of being young. 

Truly turning 30 does mark the start of aging but it’s not the end of the world. If anything, it’s a simple transition from one phase of life into another. People find it hard to believe that age is just a number and it most certainly does not define you or where you stand in life. 

What does the research say about it?

In an article written by Sheila Panchal & Ellen Jackson in the 3rd volume of ‘The Coaching Psychologist’, they present a model of ‘turning 30’ transitions by collecting data from groups of people and then introduce a coaching model to get through it. Panchal and Jackson talk about the societal pressure, expectations, challenges, and problems one might face whilst turning 30.


According to the paper, the first challenge one might come head-to-head with is a career. To manage the work-life balance, to decide whether your career choice is in fact what you want to do in life and of course whether the path that you’re on is taking you somewhere or is it the same endless repetitive cycle as static as it can be. Career choice is a constant worry which starts in your mid-20s and lasts forever if you have no clue what you’re doing. 


The second challenge they mention is relationships. Now we’ve all had our fair share of heartbreaks but there comes a time when all you want is to have someone to come home to after a long day and know that they’re all in; your ride or die. To find someone willing to commit and not leave you high and dry when you hit the first bump. Even with commitment comes a long list of issues but to find someone at 30 who’s up for it all seems impossible. 

Friends & Family

Change is inevitable. Turning 30 brings about variations in your personal life in form of changing relationships with your parents and the parents of your significant other, your group of friends, prioritizing some relations over others, and even juggling parenthood in some cases. All this brings about stress and fatigue with a constant worry of failing people around you whether they be friends or family. 

Health and Lifestyle

Turing 30 brings about bodily changes as well as mental and emotional problems for some. Your body can show signs of aging and have you worry about it more along with stress and fatigue that comes with the abrupt changes in your lifestyle. Depression can also be common in people going through this transition due to the lack of clarity in their lives.

The coaching model

They take you through different stages of taking control of your life step by step with the aim and outcome of that stage listed with it. This kind of modeling can help you cope with the depression of turning 30 and battle it with a little more ease. You can check out Panchal and Jackson’s published work to get more detailed insight into this coaching model.

Different ways to cope with the depression of turning 30

People over time have found ways to fight through this difficult time and have shared their journeys with others to help them get over the stresses and fatigues of turning 30.

A step by step guide

Our personalized guide to cope with the depression of turning 30 might help you get through it without melting into a puddle and wishing to turn back time.

  • Acceptance

Make peace with the fact that no matter how much you sulk around or freak out, life moves forward. Stressing about turning 30 will not turn back the hands of time or make you turn 29 the next year. Accepting that there’s nothing you can do except move forward is the first step to coping with the depression of turning 30. 

  • Facing negative emotions

The second step would be to allow yourself to feel the negative and scary thoughts. Face them headfirst. Cry if you need to. Every human has the right to have the time and space to process their emotions. It’s naturally okay to be frightened of the phenomenon of aging or time flying by. What’s not okay is to let yourself believe that the sadness and fear is a permanent feeling.

  • 30 does not mean old and on a deathbed

As I’ve mentioned before, turning 30 is the mark where you start aging but it never means that you’re old and have to wait for your death. You can turn it around and do things you never were allowed to or had the guts to do before. It’s always up to you as to how young you want to feel. Let yourself be free and experience life as you’re still in your youthful twenties because, at the end of the day, age is just a number.

  • Don’t be a people pleaser

Turning 30 should be an eye-opener and have you set things in perspective. Instead of gloating and sulking, set your priorities straight as you need to stop caring about people and how to please them and live up to their expectations. Try to divert all your energy towards doing what’s good for you instead of doing things to make people stay in your life. The real ones are going to get filtered out at this point anyway so focus on yourself.

  • Worrying about the future will not make it certain

Wanting to have an insight into the future is very tempting but unfortunately very impossible. Worrying about what’s to come is very natural but the uncertainty of the future makes it in vain to spend time being frightened of what’s to come. 30 is an age where the future seems all dark and gloomy but you don’t know what the future holds so try to think positively and have an optimistic attitude overall.

  • Seize the day

If 30 still seems like the end of all good things in life, then why waste the little time you have crying over spilled milk? You’ve turned 30 now so maybe make the most out of the days to come. Do the crazy things you’ve put on hold. Take a road trip with friends. Have an adventurous outing like sky diving, paragliding, or ziplining. Chances are, doing these things will make you feel alive and help get rid of the depression of turning 30.

  • No one has it all figured out

You should know that a lot of people turn 30 every day. Not one of them has their whole life figured out. You’d think that with age, people would be more knowing but honestly, everyone is winging it. So, you don’t need to stress about the fact that you’ve been left behind or have been unsuccessful in life because it’s a learning and growing process. You do something, you make mistakes, you learn and you grow. It’s never too late to learn from your experience.

  • Happy birthday to you

At the end of the day, it is your birthday just like any other. So, have some friends over, cut a cake, sing happy birthday to yourself, treat yourself to an expensive meal, and cheers to yourself and to how far you’ve come. Let yourself have the 30th birthday you deserve which is nothing other than a whole day just celebrating your existence and accomplishments.

Other Works

30 Life Lessons in 30 Years‘ by Joshua Fields Millburn for his blog called ‘The Minimalists’, has some interesting life lessons on how to be grateful for 30 years of life by turning each year into a life lesson. He touches on topics from love, health, happiness, careers, relationships, lifestyle, etc. 

Another Glamour article by Emma Rosenblum talks about how turning 30 is associated with old age and discusses how the age of 30 comes for everyone; relaxing for some but very stressful and frightening for others.

Many TV shows and movies have depicted the depression of turning 30 to be a real thing like on Netflix’s ‘Friends’, they have a whole episode about how each friend feels sad and depressed about turning 30 and how they each go through something to make their 30th birthday a wreck.


This blog post talks about ‘coping with the depression of turning 30’ and sees what research has to say about it. It also provides a step-by-step guide to its readers for fighting this battle and to feel free and good about themselves along with some works by other authors and TV show references.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions):

Is it okay to feel depressed when you turn 30?

Yes, it is perfectly fine to feel depressed when you turn 30 years old. It is human nature to be afraid of changes and the phenomenon of aging is a frightening one. You should always know that you’re never alone in your battles and many people like you feel scared and stressed by the thought of turning 30.

Does being 30 mean that you’re old?

No, being 30 has nothing to do with you being old. Old age is just a state of mind if your body is fit. It’s hard to wrap your mind around the fact that you age every single day. To define your capabilities by your age and to limit yourself to a number is absurd. Check out our guide for coping with depression of turning 30 for more insight into this.

I’m 30 and I have no idea what I’m doing with my life. What to do?

Relax and take a deep breath. It’s okay to panic when people around you are settled, having babies, and getting promotions but it’s also very important to stop comparing yourself to other people. You should take your time, make a list, organize yourself and instead of panicking, try to do things one step at a time.


Panchal, S. & Jackson, E. (2006). ‘Turning 30’ transitions: Generation Y hits quarter-life. The Coaching Psychologist, 3, 8-13. © The British Psychological Society – ISSN: 1748–1104

Millburn, J. F. (n.d.). 30 Life Lessons from 30 Years. Retrieved From

Rosenblum, E. (2011, July 11). On Your Thirtieth Birthday, You Suddenly Become An Old Person Right? Wrong. Retrieved From

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