Throughout the years, I’ve lost many people to depression, and I’ve had many people in my life who have struggled and survived. Although many were in their 20s, some were as young as 16 years old. The biggest problem is that depression isn’t visible like the chickenpox. It’s easy to hide and can show up out of the blue. One day everything could be wonderful and perfect and the next day could be a dark one.
Luckily, these feelings of sadness, anxiety, and depression are not as rare as they may seem; people like you and me may conceal them every day and no one would ever know it. Instead we wait until we’re home alone or with our loved ones to unleash the dragon. Because depression is so widespread, it’s important to remember that we are never alone. Someone always has it worse. We should be grateful for what we do have, and bad things will soon subside. Similar to the change of seasons, depression will bloom and wilt, but we can try to conquer it for good.
I have a lot of experience with depression — through family, friends, and even myself as a teenager. The biggest issue we face as young adults is that we don’t want to admit when we feel depressed, so we start to shut people out and ignore these powerful feelings that could end up destroying us.
Personally, I’ve gone through periods where I am happy, my relationships are strong, and nothing could bring me down. Then there were the times where I would cry for no reason, lie in bed all day, and avoid the people in my life who have always added to my happiness. These are all common symptoms for people struggling with depression, but I’d like to consider myself a success story. I found that what helped me the most were my relationships, and my ability to accept that I had a problem that I needed to deal with head-on.
For high school and college-aged students, changes in feelings are sporadic, and with continual stress everything tends to build up quickly before we realize that it’s affecting us negatively. My way of coping was by trusting my therapist and friends, and allowing myself to place my confidence in these people and hope for words of encouragement in return. I also tried to get myself out more by joining extracurricular activities, like participating in theater, choir, band, and volunteer work. Theater, among other activities had a very positive effect on me. I was able to surround myself with people with similar interests and eventually, with time, I was able to feel better and turn myself around.
At home, I spent a lot of time writing. Whether I was blogging, or just writing a story in my journal, getting my feelings and thoughts out of my head was really beneficial. Even though no one read the entries I would write, at the time, it felt good to let out all my baggage. It felt even better to look back at those journal entries years later and realize that it wasn’t the end of the world, and I made it through what seemed like the worst time of my life.
These are very powerful feelings that need to be approached carefully. In most cases, depression won’t just go away on its own. It takes time and understanding. It may be episodic. If you handle your feelings with care, it will be possible to go longer without feelings of despair.
If I could give you a few tips of how to cope with depression, they would be:
- Acknowledge your feelings, and seek help from either a professional or the people you love. A licensed professional can be a great way to get an unbiased look into your life. Because psychologists and therapists are trained to work with depression, their opinions will be very different than your friends and family. My advice is to start seeing a therapist once a week or so in the beginning and see how you feel. It’s not easy to admit you’re having feelings of sadness and pain, but getting help is the best thing you could do for yourself.
It’s also important to seek out friends and family, because during this difficult time, you are going to want to be surrounded by supportive people who love you. Your support system will not always understand what you’re going through, but hopefully they will assist you in any way you need.
- Join a club or activity that interests you. By joining different activities, you will meet people with similar interests, which will motivate you to go back for each meeting. You may discover that by joining an art club you have a talent for sculpting, or that your basketball skills make you the Most Valuable Player. Keeping busy, trying new things, and having fun will all benefit you and will be a great release.
- Remember that you are not alone in these depressed feelings and thoughts. Every day, all around the world, people struggle with depression, and there are many people who are able to take control of it and triumph. Things will get better, and although it may seem like the end of the world sometimes, it isn’t. You are not alone.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 Feb 2012
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Starr, D. (2012). Young Adults and Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 11, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/02/25/young-adults-and-depression/