Depression in Young Adults

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Life for young adults can be tough. Maybe you’re juggling a new career or first time finances. Or maybe you’re involved in a blooming new romantic relationship. Or perhaps you’re just living life on your own for the first time. Either way, it isn’t easy and it can be tough on a person mentally. Everyone feels upset or sad from time to time, but when depression lasts for weeks without end, that’s when it’s time to consult a professional mental health worker for some relief. Treatment for depression works. That’s because depression is a treatable condition. If you or a loved one has depression it’s likely that routine visits with a trained mental health professional will help get you (or them) on the right track. 

What is Depression? 

Depression is a constant state of sadness that never lets up and never gets better. It’s more than just feeling sad. Depression is deep within a person’s body and mind. It’s a lack of energy that never goes away. It is a persistent blueness or numbness that gets in the way of a normal life. It has mental and physical symptoms that bother a person on a deep level. Depression includes feelings of sadness, emptiness, and worthlessness. A person loses interest in activities that once brought them happiness or contentment. Additionally, there is a general numbness and lethargy that didn’t exist before. For many people, changes in sleeping and eating patterns is the norm of depression. Some people sleep much more than usual, while others eat or sleep much less. It depends on the person. The good thing about depression is that it is treatable. With hard work, medication, and a regular routine, sufferers can go on to live happy, productive, and successful lives. 

What are the Risk Factors of Depression?

Depression is incredibly common. In fact, it’s one of the most common mental illnesses, not just in the United States – but also all across the world. It’s most likely to hit younger adults as compared to older adults. A National Institute of Mental Health survey found that a little more than 10% of American young adults suffer from acute depression. That number was only around 7% in older adults. In other words, one out of every ten young adults has depression or a depressive disorder. That’s a significant percentage of the population. Those numbers are mind boggling. 

What are the Causes of Depression? 

The exact reasons for depression have not been uncovered, but researchers believe that certain risk factors put people at risk for developing it. They are:

  • A person’s genetics and family makeup matter. Depression runs in families. Therefore, certain people are more likely to be depressed because of their family makeup. If you have a parent or sibling with depression you are much more likely to develop it than someone else. 
  • Gender plays a role. Women are more likely to struggle with depression. That means that men are less likely to become depressed than women. Yet, men do suffer from it as well. 
  • Nutrition matters. You are what you eat, so eat right! A well balanced diet and exercise is best. If you deprive yourself of certain nutrients, you’re likely to develop depression.
  • Seasonal depression is real. The seasons of the year matter when it comes to likelihood for depression. 

What are the Symptoms of Depression? 

When the following symptoms are persistent, that may be a sign of depression. Just remember, everyone feels sad from time to time – but when symptoms don’t go away, that’s cause for concern. 

  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Sadness that won’t go away 
  • A numb feeling 
  • Intense anxiety 
  • Lethargy 
  • Fatigue 
  • A lack of energy 
  • A lack of desire to do things that once brought joy 
  • Trouble concentrating 
  • Trouble making decisions 
  • Poor decision making skills – making the wrong decision 
  • Physical symptoms, like muscle aches and pains, headaches, and stomach aches 
  • Trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep 
  • No appetite or an insatiable appetite that causes abnormal weight gain 
  • Thoughts of suicide and/or self harm 

Depression and Romantic Relationships

When it comes to romantic relationships, depression can be difficult. As if it weren’t already difficult to navigate the world of dating. Depression makes it ten times harder. Many times, people with depression find it challenging to get into and stay with a romantic partner. Working through conflicts in constructive ways is tough. Constant moodiness and irritability gets in the way. This can lead to even more isolation and withdrawal. These issues should be worked out while the person is still in young adulthood. That way they can learn to work around these issues. People are social beings and they want to get into meaningful relationships. That’s part of what makes life worth living – and it’s an essential facet of the human experience. Carrying on with relationships that bring meaning is important. It’s a skill any young adult should learn – but especially young adults who have a tendency toward depression. 

Depression for Young Adults in College 

Going off to college is fun, exciting, and of course, challenging. It’s challenging because college is a time when students are trying to “find themselves.” They struggle emotionally. They need to learn to juggle their workload and balance their financial budget. Getting along with new roommates is also part of the challenge. Sure, the occasional university blues happens, but when depression sticks around for too long, it may mean that the person needs professional help. Identify support systems at the college. There are student groups that can help. Also, counselors and teachers. Seek out friendships. Get involved in campus life. This will help you minimize isolation. 

How Can You Prevent Depression? 

There are ways to prevent the likelihood of depression. That said, there are some people that are just going to be more susceptible to it – especially within the young adult population. Here are some things that will make depression less likely for you or a loved one. 

  • Get active – exercise alone or in groups. Just keep moving. Exercise releases endorphins, which boost your mood and make you feel good. High intensity exercise can actually create a positive change in your brain when it’s done consistently over time. Thirty minutes a day is all you need. 
  • Get social – Building social connections is perhaps the most important thing to do. As humans we all have an innate desire to be around other humans. Spend time with the people you love – family and friends. Spend time getting to know people in your community. Make new friends. Simply getting out of the house and meeting people will do wonders for your mental health. 

Get less-stressed – To ward off depression, stress less. Do whatever you can do to ward off stress. Stress can actually lead to depression. That’s why mental health professionals always teach stress reduction techniques – no matter what the mental health issue at the root of their diagnosis. Cut out activities that give you stress. And cut out toxic people that leave you stressed. When activities and responsibilities leave you feeling drained, they’re more trouble than they’re worth.

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