The onset of most mental health issues occur during the late teens and early twenties, further complicating an already difficult period of time. Young adults tend to experience problematic psychological distress, major depressive episodes, and alcohol or substance abuse problems at higher rates than adults aged 26 to 34 years. This point in our lives is characterized by rapid physiological, sexual, cognitive, and emotional changes. Common issues that young adults are vulnerable to include substance abuse, eating disorders, depression, and anxiety. Conditions like bipolar and schizophrenia may also be diagnosable as well.
Life changes and defining identity
Young adult issues may consist of difficulties with peers, sexual or developmental concerns, school or career challenges, family differences, and so on. Many young adults also move into new adult roles and responsibilities, such as beginning higher education studies, entering the workforce, moving away from home, and starting a family. They will be expected to make important decisions for themselves, to accept responsibility for themselves legally, and to begin supporting themselves financially.
Many young adults also experience challenges to their world views during this time. As they enter new academic settings, new social circles, or new workplace environments, beliefs and values held throughout childhood may be questioned by others from different backgrounds or challenged by new ideas. This aspect of young adulthood may conflict with identity, or what was believed to be one’s identity, and stir feelings that could contribute to mental health issues like anxiety or depression.
How therapy can help
Young adults may often find the support of a therapist to be helpful during the transition from adolescence into adulthood. Despite experiencing a higher prevalence of mental health and substance use issues, however, young adults have lower treatment rates than older adults. Once they get over this barrier and seek treatment, young adults can benefit from a range of therapeutic techniques, some of which include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy, which help people identify and alter negative thought patterns and feelings and work towards personal goals.
- Encouragement to develop and connect with support networks.
- Family therapy, which may be a good option for coping with shifting family dynamics, especially when an issue has arisen that affects familial relations.
- Post-wilderness therapy, which Alison has specialized experience in.