While mental illness seems to strike without rhyme or reason to the average layperson, a patient’s age may provide insight into the mystery of some diagnoses. Cognitive development and reaching certain milestones in life could contribute to the onset of mental health conditions.
“Certainly it’s a time of considerable stress and transition for most young adults,” said Dewey Cornell, a forensic clinical psychologist from the University of Virginia. “Particularly if they are not settled in terms of their future occupation, their family relationships … it can be a very unsettling time.”
The scientific explanation lies in the brain where neurological connections and structures can change during the teen years, even into their 20s.
Johanna Jarcho, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Mental Health, elaborates further about this phenomenon.
“We once thought that the brain didn’t change that much after earlier childhood, but what we’ve seen is that the brain continues to undergo really profound changes up until your early 20s. It’s still quite malleable, so being exposed to different influences in your social environment can really have a profound impact on … brain [development],” Jarcho stated.
However, Jarcho cautions against seeing mental illness a constant threat. She thinks a healthy environment can prevent or mitigate certain diseases. As noted in USA Today, Mark Banschick, MD, provides advice for those in their 20s who are trying to keep their spirits up. Although Banschick realizes young adults want independence, he recommends they reach out for help during times of distress rather than dealing with problems alone.
Cameron Johnson, a psychiatrist from Loma Linda University, understands some college students maintain erratic sleeping habits. Despite the temptation to stay up late or sleep in on a whim, keeping a regular sleep cycle can boost mood and decrease anxiety.
Both Johnson and Banschick recommend psychotherapy for people of any age dealing with anxiety or depression. During this time of transition into adulthood, it’s healthy for patients to air their concerns and build plans for a hopeful future.
Sovereign Health Group can facilitate the healthy habit of psychotherapy, a classic strategy for dealing with depression or other mental illnesses. Our mental health professionals are ready help those in need learn to deal with mental health problems. Call us today to get started.
Written by Nicholas Ruiz, Sovereign Health Group writer