When it comes to forgiving others, women benefit the most. The act seems to ward off depression, whereas it has the exact opposite effect on men, who are very likely to suffer a bout of depression afterwards.
The key for men seems to be the feeling of being forgiven by others, too; if they forgive but aren’t forgiven, they are extremely likely to suffer depression, while women are happy just to forgive, even if they are not forgiven in return.
Knowing that the other person may be going through some psychological pain or have feelings of guilt are enough for a woman to forgive, say researchers from the University of Missouri, and it makes them feel better, whether or not they themselves have been forgiven.
Those who were not forgiven by others were ‘slightly protected’ against depression when they were able to forgive themselves, but it wasn’t a significant reduction in depressive episodes.
The findings are based on a survey of around 1,000 people aged 67 and older, who were mainly Christian.
(Source: Aging & Mental Health, 2015; 1: doi: 10.1080/13607863.2015.1060942)