Young Adults and Depression: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

young adults and depression

Depression among young adults is a rising concern in the United States.

In this article, we’re taking a closer look and young adults and depression, including the symptoms, causes, and depression treatment so you can make an informed decision regarding how to move forward.

Young Adults and Depression

As of 2017, depression was reported as affecting over 17 million adults.

The rates of depression are higher in certain groups, and the experience of it can range from mild to severe. There are depressions that linger, and those which periodically surface.

Depression can create a constant state of feeling low or can be peppered with experiences of mania or psychosis. In order to develop a better understanding of young adults and depression, it’s helpful to take a closer look at the most common symptoms, causes, and treatments available.

Here’s what you need to know about young adults and depression.


People tend to use the label of depression to describe what is actually a normal response to circumstances.

It is normal to feel sad for a period of time following a loss or rejection. It is normal to experience short periods of time where there is a lack of motivation, or where the vision for the future is dim. When negative thoughts and feelings appear on the heels of a negative event, it is likely not clinical depression which is to blame.

Clinical depression is characterized by persistent, or reoccurring, periods of low mood which are not better explained by the natural response to a situation. In order for depression to be properly diagnosed, several factors must be present, concurrently, for a period of no less than two weeks. Symptoms of clinical depression include the following:

  • Self-reports of feeling sad, hopeless, or empty
  • Reports from others that you are observed as being sad or hopeless
  • A lack of enjoyment in activities that once brought pleasure
  • A significant change in body weight
  • Lack of ability to sleep, or sleeping too much
  • Being observed by others as acting sluggish or moving slowly
  • Excessive fatigue or lack of energy
  • Persistent feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Inability to concentrate or make decisions
  • Thoughts of suicide


There are several hypotheses and theories regarding the rising rate of young adults and depression.

The explanations range from genes, diet, and environment. Without the ability to peer into the heart and mind of a person, our ability to discern the true cause of depression for an individual is an impossible task.

At best, we can observe that the symptoms are present, and then experiment with approaches toward eliminating them.


Based on the myriad of explanations for the causes and existence of depression, depression treatment approaches are likewise varied.

The method that you choose toward treating your depression will likely depend on the resources that are available to you, your willingness to explore alternatives, and a good amount of trial-and-error.

Talking with a mental health professional is one of the best places to start, as he or she will be able to identify the best way to approach treatment for your individual needs.


Medication is often the first thing thought of when considering ways to make the depression go away, and is often the go-to when visiting a psychiatrist or primary care doctor. Psychopharmaceuticals were developed as a response to the social desire to end the practice of long-term housing within mental hospitals. The drugs provided a way for symptoms to be managed on an out-patient basis.

A common misconception about the use of psychiatric medication to suppress the symptoms of depression is that the medication is intended to be used for the remainder of a lifetime.

While some people do view it as the final solution, there are many others who understand it to be only a temporary approach toward mitigating some of the severity of the symptoms.

When the medications are viewed in this way, they can assist a person in finding the motivation necessary to address the core issues which underlie the depression, and reliance on the medication can be tapered off.

Talk Therapy

Talk therapy arose to the forefront of treatment for mental health symptoms with the work of Dr. Sigmund Freud.

During the course of his studies into human psychology, Freud discovered a connection between the mental illnesses of his patients and their experiences of childhood trauma.

While there are varying opinions on his approaches toward discerning the causes of mental disorder, few can fail to credit him with revolutionizing the benefit of sorting through our problems through discussion with a trained professional.

Throughout the years, talk therapy has taken on many forms and approaches.

The focus of your sessions will depend on the theoretical orientation of the therapist you choose. A therapist may be trained to focus on family dynamics, short-term solutions, or cognitive restructuring.

There are also therapists who focus on more philosophical or spiritual sources of depression.

If you are attending regular therapy, and are not receiving the benefits that you hoped for, consider asking your therapist about the perspective that is being taken during sessions. It could be that you will better benefit from a different approach to alleviating your symptoms.

Holistic and Alternative Methods

We can thank the hippy movement of the 1960s for our cultural openness to alternative forms of therapy.

The people of this time period challenged the conventional paradigm of the American culture and introduced ideas that were borrowed from ancient times and distant lands.

Since that time, alternative approaches to finding mental wellness have been developed into both an art, and a science.

Within a holistic approach lies the premise that we are all capable of finding our own solutions for problems. A therapist or doctor is considered to be a partner or guide for a person who is recovering from the symptoms of depression.

Holistic therapy will include the incorporation of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness techniques.

Other popular methods toward alleviating depression include meditation and mindfulness.

With meditation, the creation of a peaceful environment where one can be free from outside concerns for a period of time is the goal. Mindfulness is a more active form of meditation and can be practiced on the go.

With mindfulness, the focus is on being fully aware of one’s thoughts and feelings during each moment of the day. It is a form of ongoing introspection, and the skill can be developed more fully over time.


The relationship between young adults and depression may seem like it’s one the rise, but it may also be a reflection of our willingness to discuss mental health concerns today.

Young adults are more open about their mental health, existing conditions, and seeking help when they need it.

If you’re a young adult and suspect you may be experiencing a mental health condition, like depression, it’s important that you consider learning as much about the condition as possible and reach out to a professional if you’re unable to cope. To help you get started, consider taking a look at our blog for more information about mental health topics.

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