Youth is a time of life frequently associated with happiness and positivity. Young people often are perceived as cheery, joyful, and filled with hope for the future. The fact is, however, that depression is a very real problem spanning all generations—including the youngest among us. Depression in young adults, furthermore, is a very real problem.
Recent studies indicate that as many as 1 in 20 women aged 20-44 suffer from clinical depression; and one in seven young men ages 16-24 experience conditions of depression or anxiety every year.
Depression and Young Adults
Young adults are entering an exciting and challenging new phase of their lives. For many, they are leaving home and experiencing true independence and personal responsibility for the first time. Some may be attending college while others are setting out on their own in the workforce. They are going from the constant support of family in a comfortable environment to a brand new setting without their safety net. It is easy to understand why this can be an especially difficult time for young adults and how that could affect their mental health.
Even though your young adult may no longer be living at home, it is still important to be aware of any changes in their habits or attitude that may be a sign that they are struggling with depression.
- Changes in sleep patterns. Healthy sleep habits are crucial to overall mental health. If your young adult is experiencing a sudden or significant change in their sleep patterns, it may be a sign that there is an underlying stressor on their mental health. Sleeping in here and there is normal, but if it is becoming excessive and a pattern, it may be negatively affecting other aspects of their life as well.
- Isolation. Feeling lonely is a big problem for many young adults. Once they have left home, it can be difficult for them to meet new people and make new friends. Especially for young adults who struggle with anxiety or depression, these symptoms may cause them to pull away and self isolate. An early warning sign for shifts in mood is less time spent with friends, family, and support systems. If your young adult no longer participates in activities and events they previously enjoyed, it could be a sign of depression.
- Changes in appetite and energy. Being aware of your young adult’s lifestyle can help you be aware of any changes. For example, if your young adult loved being outside and active but is now spending most of their time at home on the couch this could be a sign of a change in mood or a decline in functioning.
- Lack of self-care. Is your young adult child keeping up with the tasks of daily living? Are they eating and preparing meals for themselves? Are they bathing routinely? Is the young person exhibiting a lack of interest in things they normally enjoy? These warning signs can all indicate that they are experiencing depression symptoms.
- Excessive video or computer gaming. What is considered excessive is in the eye of the beholder, and gaming can be a social activity for young adults in moderation. As a parent, you may believe three hours of gaming is excessive while your loved one might not see excessive as anything less than ten hours. A better curiosity is whether video gaming is impeding their daily functioning or whether they can stop gaming for other routine activities or sleep.
- Social media content. What young adults are posting and people with whom they interact on social platforms can tell you a lot about your loved one’s mood. Before they leave home, be sure you and your child are “friends on Facebook” and connected on any other social channels your child enjoys. Be mindful that your young adult child may not share every social media platform that they’re involved in with you.
What can you do as a parent?
As a parent, you can do something about depression and young adults. You can help your young adult cope with the saddening, sometimes stifling symptoms of depression; but first, it is important for you to accept the possibility of parenting a depressed child.
We all like to envision our children as perfect beings; ethereal spirits above all imperfections, and certainly above any form of psychological disorders. Just be assured that—as our statistics indicate—depression and young adults is a common and widespread problem; one that can be managed and remedied in a variety of ways.
When it comes to depression and young adults, valuable help can come in various forms. You can refer your son or daughter to their school counselor or university clinic or counseling center, or take them to a mental health facility yourself.
Once a mental health assessment is made, then your child might be prescribed medications and/or talk therapy; hopefully and with any luck, their condition will improve and someday be resolved.
Regardless of the exact nature or severity of your son or daughter’s depressive condition, the diagnosis of this condition all starts with a conversation. Let your young adult know that they can come to you with any problems or concerns that they might be having at any time. The knowledge that you are on their team may in itself help alleviate their depression.
Transitional Treatment for Depression
Young adults who have attended a residential program or wilderness therapy program to help them work on their depression symptoms have begun to build the healthy coping mechanisms they will need when they return home. But for some young adults, the idea of returning home after treatment may be intimidating or even terrifying. Leaving residential treatment and returning home to old triggers and situations that contributed to their depression symptoms is one of the biggest challenges after treatment. These young adults could benefit from attending a transitional program.
Journey Home is the perfect fit for young women who are ready to build upon skills learned in therapeutic settings but recognize they still need guidance and support to further develop their success. Journey Home blends a traditional home setting with positive peer and staff relationships. At Journey Home we believe in the value of good health and healthy hobbies, two crucial aspects of happy, successful adults.
At Journey Home we teach and reinforce Five Core Principles which we believe to be at the heart of what will help our young women live happy, productive lives. These principles are:
- Healthy Living:
- Relationships / social interactions – how to have casual as well as deeper friendships and relationships that are healthy for both individuals.
- Physical care and exercise – taking care of oneself physically and emotionally is some of the useful life coaching for young adults that occurs at Journey Home East.
- Mental, emotional, and spiritual health – healthy bodies, healthy minds, this is essential for young adults to blossom into productive adults.
- Personal Responsibility:
- Task completion
- Keeping commitments
- Organization and time management
- Skills, interests, and hobbies – rather than unproductive or unhealthy habits, we provide opportunities to develop and nurture new passions and skills.
- High school or college academics – continuing on a course of learning can provide new opportunities for residents if this path is of interest to the resident.
- Vocational/career skills – we encourage everyone at Journey Home East to develop specific skills that are associated with professional opportunities. Developing these skills are critical aspects of life coaching for young adults.
- Life Skills:
- Daily accountability (chores, hygiene, cleaning, personal care) – residents are required to take care of themselves and their environment.
- Financial (budgeting, balancing checkbook, saving) – we provide life coaching for young adults on how to set financial goals that are at or below earnings.
- Shopping – while fun, shopping excursions are also teachable moments to encourage sound financial planning.
- Cooking – for themselves and for the community, residents cook and clean.
- Job searching and interviewing skills – part of being successful and productive means having a job and being successful in the search is vital for finding a job that is rewarding.
- Social Integration:
- Positive recreational activities
- Community service
- Healthy socialization & group activities
Through working on these Five Core Principles, we help our residents continue to build on the foundation they created during residential treatment or wilderness therapy. Young women who are experiencing depression symptoms may have difficulty with their self-care and connecting with peers. Their depression may have affected their performance at school or in the workplace. Each Core Principle strengthens our residents’ skills and gives them opportunities to practice those skills.
Journey Home East can help
Journey Home East is a transitional program for young women between the ages of 17-21. Our program was specifically designed to help those who need ongoing support after successfully completing an intensive treatment program such as a residential treatment center. We offer this inviting home setting for any young adult who needs a “soft landing” from a residential treatment center or other types of treatment programs for young adults.
Journey Home East, based in Asheville, NC, is geared toward young women who are ready to build upon skills learned in therapeutic settings and begin the transition towards independence. To learn more, call (828) 408-0767.