What Mental Health Issues Do Emerging Adults Experience?
MoodRx Clinical Staff - 2024-04-03

What Mental Health Issues Do Emerging Adults Experience?

What Mental Health Issues Do Emerging Adults Experience?

Emerging adulthood, typically defined as the period from the late teens through the twenties, is a significant phase of development characterized by exploration, identity formation, and transition. This period involves various life changes, such as starting college, entering the workforce, developing significant relationships, and living independently for the first time. These transitions can bring about a range of mental health challenges. Here's a comprehensive list of the most common mental health issues experienced by emerging adults:

  1. Anxiety Disorders: Many emerging adults experience heightened levels of anxiety as they navigate the pressures of adulthood, academic stress, job searches, and relationship issues. This can include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder.
  2. Depression: Significant life changes, uncertainties about the future, and the pressures of newfound responsibilities can lead to depression, characterized by persistent sadness, loss of interest in activities, and feelings of hopelessness.
  3. Stress: The accumulation of daily stresses related to personal, academic, and professional life can lead to chronic stress, impacting both mental and physical health.
  4. Substance Use Disorders: Emerging adulthood is a peak time for the onset of substance use disorders, often as a means of coping with stress, socializing, or experimenting.
  5. Eating Disorders: Issues related to body image, self-esteem, and control can lead to the development of eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder.
  6. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): While often diagnosed in childhood, ADHD can continue to affect individuals in emerging adulthood, impacting academic performance, work, and relationships.
  7. Bipolar Disorder: Emerging adulthood is a common period for the onset of bipolar disorder, characterized by mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).
  8. Personality Disorders: This developmental stage can also be a period when symptoms of personality disorders become more apparent, affecting relationships and personal functioning.
  9. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Traumatic experiences, whether recent or from earlier in life, can lead to PTSD, affecting individuals' ability to function and cope with daily life.
  10. Self-Harm and Suicidal Ideation: Challenges during this period can lead to increased risk of self-harm and suicidal thoughts, often as expressions of deep distress or as coping mechanisms.
  11. Social Isolation and Loneliness: As emerging adults navigate transitions, they may experience periods of social isolation and loneliness, particularly if they move away from their established support networks.
  12. Identity and Role Confusion: Struggles with identity, sexual orientation, career choices, and personal values can lead to confusion and distress.
  13. Imposter Syndrome: Especially prevalent in competitive academic and professional environments, imposter syndrome involves persistent feelings of inadequacy and fear of being exposed as a "fraud," despite evidence of success.


Addressing these issues often requires a multifaceted approach, including psychotherapy, medication, lifestyle changes, and support from peers and family. It's important for emerging adults to seek help when needed and for society to provide robust support systems to assist individuals in navigating this complex stage of life effectively.