Depression and Suicide in Young Adults


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This is a guest post of information developed and put together by Dr. Jesse Viner, the executive medical director of the Yellowbrick Treatment Program, a facility that helps young adults dealing with depression and other mental health issues.  Please share this important information with anyone you know who has young adults in their life.

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Depression and Suicide in Young Adults

“Moodiness” is considered a common symptom of the teenage years, and many parents believe that their child is “just going through a phase” if they seem closed-off or unhappy. This may be the case for some people in their late teens and early 20s, but others may be struggling with depression or another mental illness.

Young adults deal with a number of life changes and stressors that may have an impact on their mental health. As teens get older, they begin to seek their own identity—sometimes trying out various different identities—in an attempt to differentiate themselves from their parents and other influential adults in their lives. This can be a tumultuous time when the opinions of their friends and peers are placed ahead of their parents’. Teens may also struggle with feelings if they don’t fit in with their peers, or have the idea that no one understands what they’re going through.

The transition to life after high school can also be challenging for many young adults. Those who leave for college may be living away from home for the first time, adapting to a new schedule and heavier workload, and trying to figure out where they belong on campus. For some, these changes or other life adjustments can lead to depression and thoughts of suicide.

Looking for Signs of Depression in Young Adults

Depression is a very real health issue, but unfortunately, it can’t always be easily identified by going through a checklist of symptoms. That’s because people experience depression differently, and even people who appear happy and care-free on the surface may actually be hiding their struggle with depression. However, there are certain indicators that a young adult may be at risk for depression and suicidal thoughts. These include:

  • Keeping secrets
  • Isolating self from others, even close friends and family
  • Expressions of despair
  • Loss of interest in formerly enjoyable activities
  • Agitation or restlessness
  • Mood swings or angry outbursts
  • Sleep problems (insomnia or excessive sleeping)

Those who struggle with substance abuse are, sadly, also at a high risk for depression and suicide. Research has shown that substance abuse accelerates the risk of suicide as a response to other mental illnesses.

Providing Help for Someone at Risk for Suicide

Parents may feel helpless when they discover that their child is depressed or having suicidal thoughts, but there are positive things that parents can do during this difficult time. It’s important to demonstrate acceptance and a lack of judgment, as many young adults may experience shame or guilt for having suicidal thoughts. Parents should also listen to and empathize with their child if their child chooses to reach out to them. Establishing a safe and open channel of communication is important to making young adults feel that they’re not alone and don’t have to hide their emotions.

Young adults who have had suicidal thoughts or attempted suicide can also seek professional help in the form of counseling in order to better understand their feelings. Counseling can be a valuable tool to help build emotional resilience. They may also attempt to repair and sustain connections with people from whom they’ve become isolated, or return to activities that give them a sense of meaning in their lives.

To learn more about depression and suicide in young adults—whether you are a parent, friend, or someone struggling with suicidal thoughts yourself—check out the informative infographic from Yellowbrick Treatment Center. Remember, educating yourself about the risks for depression and suicide is the first step to helping yourself or someone you love find the necessary help.

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About Kelley

Hi! I'm Kelley. Real foodie and crunchy mom to a teenager and a toddler. My husband and I live in Southern California.

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