One’s early adult years are often the most trying phases of life. This is the time when individuals take on the world as independent adults, gaining new experiences and weathering storms they could never have anticipated.
These years are especially harder on those who are unable to find an anchor as they wade through the turbulent waters of depression and mental health concerns.
That’s why it’s so important to recognize the symptoms and seek help. Here are some early warning signs of depression in young adults.
Irritability, frustration and anger are normal emotions that everyone has to deal with. But these emotions are one of the biggest causes of depression in children, adolescents, and young adults.
Depression often manifests itself as extended bouts of irritability and frustration. Every minor inconvenience may cause them to feel angry and at edge. They develop a low tolerance for stimuli and may lash out at loved ones over small matters.
Most of us have our days when we don’t feel the best about ourselves, whether it’s about how we think we look or how we think others perceive us.
But with depressed young adults, this feeling is constant and overwhelming. They may shy away from indulging in self-care as a reason and neglect their hygiene. A depressed young adult will express that they feel inadequate and be highly critical of themselves.
Depression can foster a grim outlook towards life, both in ruminating the past and dwelling on the future of unknowns. They tend to become nihilistic and hopeless about escaping the bottomless pit they seem to have found themselves in.
With hopelessness comes feelings of worthlessness. Having a low opinion of oneself is a result of poor self-esteem and self-image. A depressed young adult may convey that their sense of worth is lacking, and as a result believe that they’re not wanted or needed by anyone. This is a heartbreaking reality about the skewed narrative depression tells young adults and others with this mental illness.
Our bodies have an internal alarm: the flight and fight response. In primeval times, it was a survival mechanism which has now been rendered redundant because we’re no longer threatened by unknown dangers in the dark.
Yet our fight and flight response remains active and manifests itself as anxiety during stressful situations. Young adults who are depressed will have heightened feelings of anxiety because their minds and bodies are under extreme duress. They may display symptoms such as restlessness, sweating, trembling, rapid breathing and accelerated heart rate.
Indulging in hobbies and fun activities is how we all release energy and cope with the stress of modern lifestyle. Losing pleasure in these is one of the biggest signs of depression in not just young adults but people of all ages.
When someone living with depression is either feeling too much or too little, everything can feel exhausting and perhaps even meaningless. As a result, it’s quite common to lose interest in formerly enjoyable activities. That’s why it’s important to be able to notice these subtle changes and seek timely therapy for depression.
The main thing that makes depression so deadly is its ability to delude oneself to think they’re being a burden on others with their problems and isolate themselves from society as a consequence.
Depressed young adults typically burn bridges and push away their friends and family. Not because they want to, but because it feels too overwhelming and exhausting. They believe no one will understand them so there’s an undertone of anger as well that makes them shut themselves off.
Depression-related anxiety over a sustained period of time causes gastrointestinal imbalance and can affect the appetite. Depressed young adults may lose interest in food or not feel hungry, or develop inconsistent eating habits.
One the other hand, the reverse may also happen and they might overeat. There’s a reason why fast food is dubbed as comfort food. Consuming highly processed foods with excessive carbs, sugar and sodium offers a momentary burst of happiness which is so craved by those living with depression.
Young adults with depression will display changes in their sleep pattern. They will either sleep too little or too much. Depression disturbs the body’s circadian rhythm and leads to insomnia in many young adults fighting depression.
Lack of a healthy sleep pattern further exacerbates other symptoms of depression such as anxiety, tiredness, loss of appetite and cognitive issues. When your mind goes out of balance, it always reflects on the body.
Besides behavior, depression impacts cognition as well in young adults. They will find themselves unable to focus on anything. Their concentration becomes so poor that it can interfere with their ability to succeed in school or at work, as well as potentially sever their memories of certain events.
Prolonged depression also leads to other cognitive issues such as poor memory or memory loss, impaired judgment, and lower response times.
It is only those who are at the precipice of life and death who ponder over the futility of life. A depressed young adult will often make remarks pertaining to death, hiding concerning statements behind ‘dark humor’.
Some young adults may also self harm with visible cuts on their wrists or thighs. Suicide ideation, self-harm and offhand comments regarding death can be the final knell before tragedy strikes. So they should never be brushed off. Please consider reaching out for support from a therapist, psychologist, and/or national, anonymous helplines for mental health support.
Depression is not a death sentence. It’s a treatable illness that requires as much intensive care as any other illness or disease. Even though mental disorders affect the brain, the symptoms manifest as physical ailments.
Seeking professional help in time is crucial to recovery and improving one’s quality of life. So if you or your loved ones are battling this illness, support and encourage them to get help and live a healthier and happier life.