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Recognizing the Symptoms of Depression in Young People

written by: Marziyya S Malik • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 5/20/2011

Nearly one quarter of all young adults develop depression by the time they turn 24, however, very few of them seek help for the problem, and the principle reason for this is the absence of a correct diagnosis.

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    Most people do feel “blue" occasionally, which is a normal reaction to stressful life events, however, if those feelings persist for long periods and interfere with daily activities, medical help should be sought.

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    Physical Symptoms

    If more than two of these physical signs of depression are present without any particular reason, there is a good chance the individual is suffering from depression, especially if accompanied with specific behavioral changes outlined in the following section.

    • Lack of energy and a general feeling of tiredness during most of the day
    • Frequent headaches and pains in other body parts, such as stomach and back
    • Loss of appetite
    • Either gain or loss of weight

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    Emotional and Behavioral Signs

    Signs of depression in young adults are typically noticeable from their behavior and actions:
    • Not being able to enjoy activities that the person was particularly fond of
    • Irritable and anxious during most of the day
    • Feeling unloved and lonely even when around people
    • A general feeling of emptiness and hopelessness
    • Crying frequently without any particular reason
    • Disturbed sleeping patterns
    • Inclination towards overconsumption of alcohol and sometimes drugs
    • Not being able to concentrate on studies in college or work-based activities
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    Social Signs

    A major symptom of a depressed young adult is social withdrawal, something particularly evident if the individual had formerly been a very social person. This symptom can often be spotted by the individual’s close friends and family members, who he/she used to spend time with. Also, when young adults are depressed they typically don't care for personal grooming.

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    Relationship Issues

    Young adults who feel insecure and need constant reassurance in relationships are more prone to depression, according to a research at the University of Maine. According to UMain’s doctoral research fellow Jessica Fales, frequent questions such as “Do you really care about me?" show the individual’s internalizing problems, which are mostly common among young women, but are also found among men. The research analyzed young adults and found that this reassurance seeking behavior directly influences the symptoms of depression, in addition to causing strain in relationships.

    Additionally, not being able to get into a relationship or instability and uncertainty in a long term relationship can also become a cause of depression (The Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2010).

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    Some Examples

    Other possible signs of depression in young adults include:

    • The person is passively watching TV instead of participating in regular activities such as sports or other hobbies
    • Risk taking behavior is evident such as reckless driving and binge drinking
    • Regularly skipping classes, poor grades on assignments, and not meeting deadlines
    • The person is often complaining of boredom, seems confused and lacks concentration in whatever the task is being performed
    • Decision making has become very difficult
    • Cannot keep a track of commitments and is not showing up for appointments

    NB: The content of this article is for information purposes and is not intended to replace sound medical advice and opinion.

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    References

    Black Dog Institute. Information for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Young People and their Families. Retrieved from: http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/docs/CALDpaper.pdf

    Children, Youth and Women's Health Service. (2010). Depression. Retrieved from: http://www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthTopicDetails.aspx?p=240&id=2079&np=298

    Depression Facts and Statistics. (2009). Depression Facts and Statistics by category. Retrieved from: http://www.depressionperception.com/depression/depression_facts_and_statistics.asp

    Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand. Checklist for Signs of Depression. Retrieved from: http://www.wordworx.co.nz/depression.html

    PHYSORG. (2011). New study finds the warning signs of depression in young romance. Retrieved from: http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-01-depression-young-romance.html

    The Royal College of Psychiatrists. (2009). Mental Health and Growing Up. Retrieved from: http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mentalhealthinfo/mentalhealthandgrowingup/depressioninchildren.aspx

    The Royal College of Psychiatrists. (2010). Men and Depression. Retrieved from: http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mentalhealthinfoforall/problems/depression/mendepression.aspx