Depression in Young Adults

Recent statistics indicate there are a growing number of young adults who experience depression or symptomology indicative of depression. Unfortunately, there is limited awareness and understanding of the warning signs.

“For the last three months, I find myself zoning out from work. I am snapping at everyone including my girlfriend. The other day a friend called me for a drive and I straight up lied and said I was busy because the thought of interacting with him was exhausting. Everything is fine though… I don’t know I am feeling this way. I have nothing to complain about, do you think this is just a phase?” (Samir, age 29)

Many choose to self-medicate with alcohol; marijuana, caffeine, and sometimes illegal narcotics like methamphetamines. These substances are used as a method of avoidance, further these legal and illegal drugs are considered socially more acceptable than having a mental health concern. On reflection many young adults realize symptoms such as irritability, low mood, loss of appetite and inability to concentrate have developed overtime and only come to light when there is a stressor in the environment or the symptomology begins to affect their quality of life.

“I cried in the bathroom for forty-five minutes. I sat on the toilet seat and just cried. I don’t know why. I have been quite out of it for some time, but I guess I just exploded? I am so sorry I don’t know why I am crying… I guess I just feel overwhelmed all the time and it is too much.” (Gulpreet, age 19)

The narratives of Samir and Gulpreet are not uncommon. Many young adults only begin to get concerned once the symptoms become unbearable or avoidable. This speaks to the continued stigma associated with mental health. There is significant risk in ignoring this condition as the development of severe depression can manifest in self-harm and accidental suicide.

Identification of early warning signs is paramount in managing these symptoms. However, there are a few lifestyle changes which can assist in tackling these concerns:

  1. Exercise: There is a vast amount of research which directly correlates exercise which the increased production of Dopamine and Serotonin (the happy hormones) which help improve mood. Furthermore, exercise helps in appetite development and sleep regulation both of which play an integral role in combating depression.

  2. Food: What produce you consume while experiencing mental health concerns is important. It is recommended that individuals limit/abstain from alcohol and recreational drugs as they could have a further negative impact of mood.

  3. Social Media Usage: Unfortunately, social media can make an individual feel isolated and like they are missing out especially when an individual feels paralyzed and less social due to mood. Further at times social media can be a negative space as information circulated can be of a pessimistic nature and anonymous interactions run the risk of becoming cyber-bullying. When feeling low, filtering social media and reducing usage can assist in recovery.

Many are under the misconception that depression has an identifiable trigger like stress, job loss, divorce, death of a family member etc- depression can manifest itself due to a neurochemical imbalance and therefore a trigger is not necessary. While lifestyle adjustments are useful it is imperative to note that individuals should seek a professional consult if the symptoms above persist or increase.

In conclusion, we owe it to ourselves to be vigilant of changes in mood and attitude. Mental illness is an invisible illness which only comes to light when the condition of a person declines significantly- therefore building awareness and understanding is crucial. Therefore, waiting till the nth moment to seek guidance can be counter-productive and we advocate seeking assistance sooner rather than later.

*All names have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the clients involved

Image source-Google

Author
TANYA VASUNIA
Psychologist
Mpower-The Centre, Mumbai
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