COVID-19 has gone from being nonexistent to becoming part of many conversations most days of the week. As we near the one year mark of the first COVID-19 cases, reported in Wuhan, China on December 31, 2019, our world continues to traverse these unclear, sometimes scary times. As cases start to rise once again, the topic of mental health during these difficult times comes to the forefront.
Schools from primary grades to university level continue to provide education either totally online or as some sort of hybrid approach. Our youth, who are typically the most social of any age group, have been forced into social isolation—and their mental health is suffering. In fact, according to recent research and news, everyone’s mental health is suffering.
In fact, in early August, former First Lady Michelle Obama announced on her podcast, ***, that she too was experiencing ‘low grade depression’. And according to recent research from the Institutes for Fiscal Studies (IFS), millions of people reported that they too have been experiencing more mental health issues than before COVID-19. For most of these individuals, the increases have been in both depression and anxiety. Two mental health disorders that millions already suffer from both globally and across our nation.
Depression, Anxiety, and Loneliness Feelings Increase During COVID-19 for Young, College-aged Women
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression impacts about 264 million people worldwide. And while there aren’t exact numbers to report, the number of people suffering from depression has increased during the pandemic.
While this is alarming and emphasizes the need for increased mental health care and awareness, the age group most impacted by mental health issues during COVID-19 are young women between the ages of 19 and 30.
A study from the University College London found that 19-year-old females are experiencing the highest rates of depression, anxiety, and feelings of loneliness than any other age group. The study, which included 18,000 adults from the ages of 19 to 62, revealed that one-third of 19-year-old women are now living with anxiety and depression as compared to one-fourth of men in this same age group.
And while women historically are more prone to be diagnosed with depression and anxiety, these numbers raise an alarm. Not only does this age group and gender suffer more with these mental health disorders, but the rates of attempted suicide amongst young women is also higher than it’s ever been. The question is, is there adequate mental health care to address the increase in mental health disorders. And, as many have brought to light, the mental health of each country’s citizens will play a significant role in our recovery from many of the negative impacts of COVID-19.
Today, more than ever, it’s vital to have high-quality, compassionate, and evidence-based treatment for mental health disorders. Futures Recovery Healthcare has seen the need for improved mental health care in the community and has responded to this need with the addition of the Residential Mental Health Program.
With mental health disorders impacting about one in five Americans, the need for effective mental health treatment has never been greater. This is particularly true when it comes to young women aged 19 to 24 years of age who are suffering from an 11% increase in worsening mental health issues.
As mentioned, depression and anxiety are leading the way for mental health issues in this age and gender group. And while both depression and anxiety respond well to treatment, only 43% of those with mental health issues get the treatment they need, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
Recognizing Depression and Anxiety in Young Adults
We may all look at the ‘young adult’ years as the best years of our lives, however, this age group continues to experience increases in mental health disorders including substance abuse. And as discussed, COVID-19 is only making matters worse.
And while this vulnerable age group tries to put on a brave face, many are suffering to the extreme. The first step to getting help for any mental health disorder is to recognize the issue. For many young people, this can be difficult. They have been trained by society to believe that these years are the ‘best years of their lives’. So not only are many struggling to feel better, but they also have the added burden of thinking they shouldn’t feel sad or anxious.
This has only worsened with COVID-19 for not only this age group but for many across the nation and world. So many think that they should be adjusted to life in the pandemic by now, or that they shouldn’t be depressed or anxious, however, this denial or attempted repression of feelings only creates more bad feelings.
It’s important to understand the signs and symptoms of both depression and anxiety so that you can recognize them in a loved one or in oneself.
Signs of Depression and Anxiety in Young Adults
Depression is a mental health disorder that is characterized by feelings of sadness and a loss of interest in life, activities, hobbies, etc. For young adults, some of the signs may be slightly different from other adults.
- Crying spells or feelings of sadness
- Getting angry or frustrated over even small things
- Irritated or annoyed easily
- Feeling hopeless
- Feeling empty
- Low self-esteem
- Loss of interest in family and friends
- Conflicts with family and friends
- Needing a lot of reassurance
- Struggling to make decisions often over even small things
- Loss of interest or not getting pleasure from activities previously enjoyed
- Self-blaming and self-criticizing
- Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
- Concentrating and focusing troubles
- Extreme sensitivity especially to perceived rejections
- Changes in sleep such as insomnia or sleeping too much
- Tiredness, fatigue
- Appetite changes
- Social isolation
- Poor grades in school or performance at work
- Personal hygiene issues (decreased care)
- Self harm such as cutting, burning, excessive piercing
- Restlessness or inability to sit still
- Acting out such as angry outbursts or risky behaviors
- Using alcohol or drugs
- Making a suicide plan or talking about dying often
As the young adult years can be plagued by ups and downs in life and emotions, it can sometimes be difficult to tell if a young adult has depression or is just dealing with ‘life’. It’s important to pay close attention to all of these signs as well as look for differences in past emotions and behaviors as compared to current ones.
During this time of social isolation, people may not be seeing each other as much. This can make it more difficult to tell if someone you care about is showing signs of depression. For this reason, it’s vital to talk to those you care about on a regular basis. Checking in with others not only can help our own feelings of isolation it can also help others. This is particularly true for a person who is experiencing depression or anxiety. Regularly checking in, whether by phone, Zoom, or Skype, etc., can help to see if there are any changes in the above-listed signs.
Remember, it’s okay to not be okay.
Millions upon millions suffer from anxiety and depression—you are not alone! Effective treatment programs utilizing evidence-based therapies and sometimes medications have been proven time and time again to help depression. Futures Residential Mental Health Program offers high-quality, evidence-based, compassionate treatment for depression as well as anxiety and mood disorders.
In addition, Futures offers treatment for alcohol and substance use disorders. Our treatment programs for co-occurring mental health disorders help those with both a substance or alcohol use issue and a mental health issue such as depression or anxiety.
Signs of Anxiety
Anxiety is a normal response to certain situations. At times, a normal level of anxiety can help us. Whether it’s studying for a big test or training for a certain game, anxiety isn’t all bad. However, anxiety disorders, characterized by excessive worry, can wreak havoc on life. While young adults are often living in a time of their lives with many changes, ongoing anxiety can rob them of the wonder, happiness, and excitement of this stage of their lives.
It’s important to know the signs of anxiety in young adults. Some of the signs of anxiety are similar to those of depression. In fact, it is not uncommon for depression and anxiety to both occur at the same time.
- Excessive or uncontrollable worry about things that may happen or events that are going to happen
- Excessive worry about family, friends, safety
- Irritated, on edge, or annoyed easily
- Unable to relax
- Unable to concentrate or focus
- Easily alarmed or startled
- Sleep issues such as insomnia
- Fear of being away from own surroundings and being clingy to loved ones
- Medically unexplained shortness of breath
When it comes to signs of anxiety in young adults, it’s important to pay close attention. Many times these signs of both anxiety and depression in this age group go unnoticed as they are sometimes common emotions and behaviors during this stage of life.
Today, more than ever, it’s vital that we are all paying attention to both how we are feeling and how our loved ones are doing too. If you are a young adult or know young adults, pay attention to how they are acting and feeling during these difficult times of COVID-19.
With many counselors’ offices still closed for in-person visits, many are suffering alone and in silence. And as we begin to one day come out of the pandemic there will be an increased need for mental health treatment programs. Current treatment methods for both anxiety and depression usually include psychotherapy such as cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) and sometimes medications. Treatment for both mental health disorders is highly effective.
As mentioned, young adult women between the ages of 19 and 30 are suffering the most. It’s important to pay special attention to those you know in this age group. If they need help, seek professional assistance.
If you or someone you love is feeling depressed or anxious and it just isn’t going away, there is help! Futures is here for you offering compassionate, evidence-based care to help you or your loved one recover from depression, anxiety, or substance abuse. Contact us online today or call us at 866-804-2098.