Depression and Treatment for Young Adults
Depression Treatment for Young Adults
Depression is a common illness, and the number one cause of disability worldwide. Although depression can strike at any age, young adult females have the highest risk of developing major depressive disorder.
There are many reasons why young adults, and in particular young women, are more likely to suffer from the symptoms of depression. In addition, there are different types and subtypes of depression, and each one will require its own unique treatment method. Also, conventional treatment methods for depression may not be successful for young adults. The following article will explore the risk factors for depression in young adults, symptoms, and treatment methods for the disorder for this age group.
In 2014, young adults were twice as likely to report depression symptoms than any other age group. Young adults are typically characterized as people between the ages of 18 to 29. Young adults under 25 do not have higher rates of depression than young adults from 25 to 29. 9.6% of all people in this age group in the U.S. suffer from a depressive disorder.
Why is this age group at higher risk of depression than other age groups?
The time between adolescents through the late twenties is a time of significant mental, emotional, physical, and environmental change. These substantial changes and life stressors can trigger symptoms of mental illness in at-risk individuals. However, studies indicate that financial stress and unemployment and underemployment are significant triggers and risk factors for depression for this age group. Employment that features low-level cognitive demand requires few skills and gives workers minimal autonomy has been linked to episodes of depression in young adults. Jobs with these features are typically entry-level jobs, that young adults often find themselves working.
Findings also indicate that among young adult men, higher job status is correlated with lower incidences of depression. For young women, physically dangerous jobs are correlated with higher stress levels and depression symptoms. Studies also indicate that for young adults, living below or right at the poverty line is associated with higher levels of depression symptoms.
Along with employment and financial stress, early adulthood is a time when many people enter into romantic relationships, get married, and have children. While these are usually positive experiences, even positive stress can trigger mental illness in at-risk persons.
- Career stress
- Financial problems
- Issues adjusting to marriage and cohabitation
- Bearing and raising children
All of these aspects that are common in young adulthood can all converge to trigger depression symptoms in young adult men and women alike. However, young women experience higher rates of depression diagnosis than men. Part of this is linked to subtypes of depression that are inextricably linked to female biology, such as pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder, and post-partum depression.
On top of these environmental stressors, young adulthood typically coincides with increased levels of alcohol and tobacco use. Young adults who drink frequently, and use tobacco have higher rates of clinical depression than people who do not drink or smoke.
What are the treatment options for depression in young adults?
Depression can cause significant, distressing changes in someone’s personality. For a diagnosis of depression, a cluster or pattern of the following signs and depressive symptoms must be present for at least two weeks. Only a trained medical professional can officially diagnose depression.
- Feeling sad, hopeless, and empty
- Tearfulness and moodiness
- Agitation or irritability
- Becoming socially withdrawn
- Inability to handle self-care
- Missing important event
- An inability to feel joy around activities that would generally make the person happy
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Eating too much or too little
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Random, unexplained aches and pains
- Feeling shameful, guilty, or full of self-loathing
- Thoughts of suicide and self-harm
- Suicide attempts
For most people with depression, a combination of talk therapy and also medications can alleviate symptoms. However, young adults under the age of 25 with depression, and their family and loved ones, need to be especially aware of their symptoms and changes in behavior.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death for people between the ages of 18 and 24. Many popular SSRI antidepressants can increase thoughts of suicide and the risk of suicide in young adults for about two weeks after they start taking medicine. But antidepressant use is strongly correlated with an overall decrease in suicidal thoughts and attempts. It’s vital that patients in this age group are closely monitored and able to communicate quickly with their doctors if they experience an increase in suicidal thoughts after taking medication.
For adolescents with depression, TMS trials have proved promising for this age group.
TMS is a non-invasive alternative to ECT for depression that is resistant to medication. A powerful magnetic coil is placed on the head over certain regions of the brain that are known to be responsible for producing depression symptoms. Magnetic pulses are used to stimulate these regions. The side effects for TMS are minimal, and the most common side effect is a mild headache and slight facial tingling. Because TMS is a non-surgical procedure, patients can return to work or school soon after each treatment session. Sessions usually last between 40 and 60 minutes. In most cases, patients will undergo 30 sessions over a four to six week period. Up to 70% of TMS patients see a reduction in depression symptoms.
Depression is an incredibly painful illness that can impact all aspects of a person’s life. Young adults are in the crucial process of building a strong foundation for their lives, and untreated depression can negatively impact their ability to function on a day-to-day basis. If you or a young adult loved one is suffering from depression symptoms, contact a mental health professional today to explore your treatment options.