Ladies, if you're battling depression and so far medications are hardly working, you can try the act of forgiving others.
Based on a new study, older women who have learned to forgive the fault of others are more likely to experience depressive symptoms than those who don't. Interestingly, this benefit doesn't apply to men, who can have high levels of depression whether they forgive someone or not.
The University of Missouri study, with Ashley Ermer as the lead author and Christine Proulx as the co-author, looked into the data found in a national survey on aging, religion, and health. They specifically focused on older adults who are at least 67 years old. In the end, they obtained over a thousand men and women.
In the survey, the participants had to answer a series of questions that pertained to their mental and emotional health, as well as religion.
Upon analyses, they found out that older people, in general, tend to be more forgiving simply because they are at an age where they start reflecting on their life's decisions and experiences. Moreover, those who have learned to forgive others, regardless of whether they in turn were forgiven, tend to show less signs of depression. But this effect was seen only among women.
Those who have learned to forgive themselves for their transgressions also had less symptoms, but the decrease wasn't as significant as forgiving others. Depression was also less for people who hadn't been forgiven if they bestowed the mercy on themselves.
Forgiving someone isn't the easiest thing to do. It's a complex process that involves pain, resentment, questions, and loss of trust. Some are capable of forgiving but only when sufficient punishment is given to the aggressor.
However, this isn't the first time that forgiveness improves a person's well-being. Physiology, forgiveness can significantly reduce the risk of high blood pressure and increased heart rate.