If you are parenting a struggling young adult, we can help. Your young adult may be suffering from depression, which can impact their ability to move forward. Here are nine signs of depression in young adults and what you need to look for.

Parenting A Struggling Young Adult: Resource For Parents

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Parenting is hard work. Parenting a struggling young adult who seems to be content doing nothing can be frustrating. We get it. Just when you think you’ve done your job raising a productive adult, you find yourself battling basic life choices with them. You aren’t alone. Pure Life Adventure Therapy sees struggling young adults every day, just like yours. And we can help.

Your child’s failure to launch, or lack of motivation, may be more than just wanting to do nothing. They may be struggling with depression, trauma, or crippling anxiety. But how would you know? We’ll share what depression can look like in your young adult’s life and what you can do to help. 

How Do You Deal With Unmotivated Young Adults

It can be frustrating to sit on the sideline of your adult child’s life and watch them handle things differently than you would. It may even be that they simply aren’t handling life at all. Young adult mental health issues are complex. As young adults, you can’t put them in timeout or easily distract them with something more positive. So what exactly does a parent of a struggling and unmotivated adult child do?

Motivation is essentially the cause or reason to act; an inner urge that moves or prompts a person into action. A lack of motivation can stem from a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons may be obvious to a bystander, but others may not be. What you can do is observe. Take note of when their motivation wanes or ignites. Do you see any patterns? Do you see negative triggers that stop motivation from progressing? Lean in to any positive observations you may see and work to help your child replicate what does work for them.

Low motivation may also be a result of depression, anxiety, stress or trauma. In some instances, these are harder to recognize and may not have a specific pattern. These are the times you will want to do your best to be a positive influence and avoid damaging titles or names. Avoid referring to your young adult as lazy. Don’t use other individuals or children as a comparison. For example, don’t ask, “Why can’t you be more like your brother?” Don’t criticize or complain about the efforts they do make. They may not be significant to you, but any effort is worth acknowledging and praising.

How Do I Know If My Young Adult Has Depression?

Depression can have a tremendous impact in a young adult’s life. From motivation to self-confidence, depression can deplete your child’s will to do anything. Here are eight signs that your young adult may be suffering from depression.

Sadness Or Hopelessness

Feelings of sadness are normal, but young adults that struggle with depression have extended periods of sadness or more extreme levels of sadness. There isn’t always a specific reason for them to feel sad, but they do. They can feel as though nothing will ever be better again, and that this feeling of sadness is permanent.

Irritability Or Anger

Depression is often thought to be crying and sadness only, but it can express itself through anger and irritability as well. Your child may lose patience over seemingly small things, or feel immense anger or frustration in situations that you wouldn’t normally expect such reactions. It can be as simple as missing a show they really liked, not being able to go to an event they were looking forward to, or angry that they forgot an appointment or an item at the grocery store.

Withdrawal From Friends And Loved Ones

Withdrawal goes beyond simply enjoying alone time. Withdrawal is extended time away from those they normally enjoy engaging with. It is an intentional separation from friends and loved ones. You may see them make odd excuses to avoid interaction or blatantly ignore invites, texts, calls or requests to engage.

DISCOVER: For Young Adults: A Road Map For Success

Changes In Sleeping Habits And Eating Habits

Changes in sleeping and eating habits can mean that their standard patterns have been altered. If they normally are a night owl, but you now find them sleeping early in the evening, this could be cause for concern. Some with depression find they are unable to sleep at all, while others sleep the entire day and night. Along with these changes, you may see overindulgence in eating or not eating. Any extreme in either direction is a concerning sign.

Loss Of Interest In Usual Activities

If your young adult loves reading, video games, watching or playing sports, but begins to avoid participating in such activities, take note. Disinterest may not happen immediately, but could occur over time. No matter what their love or passion is, when they actively seek to avoid it or can’t be enticed to participate, this is often a sign of depression.

Fatigue Or Lethargy

Depression can present physical symptoms for those suffering. The continued sadness, anger, stress, or disappointment that depression brings can cause physical fatigue and lethargy. Watch for abnormal or persistent tiredness and lack of energy.

Difficulty Focusing

Depression can affect thinking and focus. Lack of focus or concentration can be one of the most noticeable signs to others as well as the sufferer, but is usually excused away as a result of general life stress or a disinterest in what they are working on. Again, like many of the other symptoms, pay attention to consistent changes in their ability to focus or concentrate.

Thoughts Of Suicide Or Death

Wanting to end one’s life is serious and needs to be addressed immediately. Pay attention to your child’s choice of words. They may not use the word suicide or death, but may choose terms like “I just want it all to stop,” or, “I am done trying to make my life work every day. Everything is too hard. I don’t want to do this anymore,” or, “I’m such a burden to everyone around me.” Any conversation or comment that alludes to wanting to end or stop life in general should be taken seriously.

EXPLORE: How Wilderness Adventure Therapy Can Help Your Struggling Young Adult

3 Ways To Help A Struggling Young Adult

As a parent, there are many things you can do for a child that may be struggling. Even if you do not struggle with depression or are unable to relate to their feelings, you can be an impactful and positive guide in their life.

Set Boundaries With Love

It can be tempting to “clear the path” for a young adult that is struggling, by removing challenges or expectations from their plate. We advise striking a balance between seeking to understand what they are going through while still setting clear expectations and boundaries for them. A young adult needs to understand that you’re willing to get them the help that they need, but that they will need to engage in treatment and life in a meaningful way. 

Encourage Open Communication

Getting your young adult to talk openly is important. You will never know the full extent of their depression or needs until they share. Create a safe space, free of judgment, that allows your adult child to share what they are feeling. If they sense they may get in trouble or a lecture, they will not come talk with you.

Seek The Help Of A Professional

Depression does not go away on its own. There may be bigger issues at play that add to depression or trigger more extreme depressive episodes. Seeking the help of a professional is important. It is often the first step to helping the child receive any medical intervention that is needed. A child suffering from depression must be properly assessed to avoid worsening symptoms and to prevent causing harm to themselves. A professional can offer hope and a path to healing.

How Can Wilderness Adventure Therapy Help Young Adults

When life feels overwhelming, it can be freeing to change your environment. A major benefit to wilderness adventure therapy is the ability to leave any toxic situations behind. Whether life is stressful at school, there’s tension in relationships or an overwhelming home life, wilderness adventure therapy removes the student from such environments to allow them a fresh, clean starting point.

Adventure therapy also embraces the incredible healing power of nature. Living in the outdoors while also stepping outside yourself to serve a new community provides a unique perspective for students. They can set aside negative thoughts that have been circling their mind and focus on a new adventure, experiences, and relationships. They’ll engage in a life that is completely new. Adventure therapy activities build confidence. It gets students outside their comfort zone in a healthy and safe way, so they can learn more about their capabilities and ability to grow.

Pure Life Adventure’s Resources For Young Adults And Depression

Pure Life Adventure is a unique adventure therapy service. Providing a safe place in nature to help students foster self-reflection, independence, confidence, bravery, community awareness, and more is the purpose of adventure therapy. We have personally witnessed the healing power that our program has had on struggling young adults. Pure Life provides hope to young adults and their families when they aren’t sure where to go. Loss of direction in life as a young adult does not have to defeat your children. Dealing with depression, anxiety, lack of motivation or loss of confidence is not their predetermined future. 

Adventure therapy is a highly effective method that combines the grounding aspects of nature, the comradery of group and community experiences, individual therapy, and intentionally structured physical activities to help young adults gain confidence and direction in their lives. Our activities range from surfing, sea kayaking, white water rafting, cultural immersion experiences, and service projects. 

Let Pure Life teach your child how amazing they really are. Through the help of our licensed therapist and a detailed daily itinerary and activities, your child will learn tools to help them cope with life beyond the forests of Costa Rica. Life won’t always be perfect, but we can give them the confidence to continue moving forward, help them see their value and how to work through additional challenges they may face later in life.

Don’t let parenting a struggling young adult take control of your life. There’s healing available and Pure Life is ready to help. Read more on depression in young adults in our free whitepaper. Contact Pure Life’s team for more information, and to see if Pure Life wilderness adventure therapy is a good fit for your loved one.

More Info On Young Adults And Depression

Depression, Low Motivation, and Failure To Launch In Young Adults

What Is Social Anxiety Or The “Always Embarrassed” Disorder?

For Young Adults: A Roadmap For Success

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