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Is Your Young Adult in Trouble? Warning Signs of Anxiety, Depression, and Substance Abuse

Updated: Mar 17, 2023

According to a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, a staggering 48% of young adults ages 18-25 reported feeling symptoms of mental and/or emotional issues in mid-2022. Depression, anxiety, stress, and the use of substances to self-soothe are running rampant among young adults. According to Mental Health America, 6.34%, or 1.5 million, young adults in the U.S. reported a substance use disorder in the past year alone.

These frightening statistics are significantly higher than they were just 10 years ago.

There are a variety of factors contributing to these staggering numbers, including but not limited to: family issues, societal expectations, an unstable world (COVID, political unrest, etc.), unhealthy relationship with/ overuse of social media, and online bullying.

Many young adults are feeling the pressure from society and their families to achieve the same milestones that their parents did at the same age, such as graduating from college in 4 years, having an established long-term relationship/life partner, buying a house, and starting a family in their early 20’s. Unfortunately, expecting today’s young adults to achieve what previous generations did at the same age can be somewhat unrealistic.

Inflation, high interest rates, and the war in Ukraine are all major factors impacting the economy. In today’s market, in order to buy a house, a person must make at least $50,000 a year. Expecting your young adult to achieve the same things you did on the same timeline is not only unhelpful, but it may be negatively impacting their perception of themselves and the world.

In addition to a changing economy and unrealistic expectations, COVID-19 has significantly impacted how young people interact with others. Teens and young adults are at a very pivotal time in their lives, and suddenly they are ripped out of school and away from their peers and essentially isolated from others for months at a time. Unlike adults, who already established their social skills and have fully-developed brains, young adults are continuing to learn how to interact with their peers. The human brain is not fully developed until one’s mid-to-late 20’s. The uncertainty of the world can stress anyone out, let alone a young adult who is still figuring out who they are and who they want to be.

Add in the overuse of, in some cases addiction to, social media and you have a perfect storm for emotional issues. Unrealistic societal expectations, for example how we “should” look or what we should be doing, and the prevalence of photoshop and other editing tactics cause young adults to compare themselves with people online who are seemingly perfect. This causes many young adults to feel that they are not good enough or somehow lacking, which can drastically impact their self esteem and confidence and contributes to depression and anxiety.

Online bullying can also play a significant role in how young people feel about themselves, their relationships, and what's possible for them. When people can say anything they want to others behind a screen without consequences, it creates an environment for hate. For the young adults who are already vulnerable and insecure, added negativity, hate, and judgement from strangers can even lead to suicidal ideations.

The younger generations today are having to deal with unique challenges that didn’t even exist for older generations.

For this reason, it can be hard to understand how these circumstances affect young adults. Educating yourself, becoming aware of the signs of emotional issues, and not judging simply because you don’t understand can truly help your young adult’s mental and emotional well-being.

Unfortunately, sometimes love is not enough to pull someone out of depression or life-limiting anxiety or to give them the confidence to move forward in life. It is crucial that your young adult receives the help from someone who can give them the specific tools and strategies they need to improve their emotional well-being.

It is important to know the signs so that you can keep an eye on your young adult, but it is even more important for them to be aware of the signs so they can recognize them within themselves. It is also important to establish a comfortable and safe environment for your child to seek help if they are experiencing symptoms of emotional issues.

Some of the most common signs of emotional issues are:
  • Changes in sleep patterns (ie sleeping too much or not enough on a consistent basis)

  • Losing interest in hobbies or activities they once enjoyed

  • Inability to maintain friendships

  • Sudden weight loss or weight gain

  • Lack of ability to concentrate

  • Changes in appetite that lead to not eating enough or binge eating

  • Changes in motivation

  • Extreme mood changes

While it is not unusual for everyone to experience some of these symptoms occasionally, it is not healthy for a young adult to experience five or more of these symptoms every day on a consistent basis.

Signs of substance abuse in young adults include:
  • Sudden changes in weight

  • Isolating themselves from family or friends

  • Acting overly aggressive or angry

  • Sudden, intense, and uncontrollable mood swings

  • Frequent nosebleeds

  • Shakes and tremors

  • Bloody or watery eyes

If you have struggled to connect with your child and help them open up in the past, it might be unlikely for them to suddenly come to you about their emotional struggles and ask for help. If this is the case for your family, help your young adult understand that there are people who care about them and want to help them get better.

Reach out to other family or friends who your child is close with and remind them that they can always reach out to someone who they feel comfortable talking to. In most cases, a closed off relationship between teens/ young adults and their parents is normal and nothing personal. They are in a very vulnerable time in their lives. It is better to reach out and remind them of who they can talk to than to leave them to turn to substances or people who, unlike you, do not have their best interest in mind.

The sooner your child gets the help they need in the forms of specialized tools and techniques based in Brain Science and Emotional Intelligence, the better the likelihood of them being able to improve their emotional well-being and get on with their lives.

Unfortunately, I have seen many emotional issues and substance abuse issues in young adults who do not get the help they need early on and suffer needlessly for months or even years.

I began to see this worrisome trend and regularly had parents reaching out for ways to help their young adult children. Once I saw the need for a program for young adults who are struggling with emotional issues, finding their place in the world, and transitioning into adulthood, I developed a program called Failure to Launch.

In this program, I work closely with young adults and their families to uncover the deeply held negative beliefs and patterns that are affecting young people and their families. Whether the negative patterns have been recurring for generations or are newly formed, I work intensively with families to build awareness and education and provide them with the tools, techniques, and solutions they need to improve their familial relationships and mental and emotional health.

One of the most unique features of my Failure to Launch program is access to my exclusive network of industry professionals. For example, if your child needs a psychological examination, I can get them in direct contact with one of my trusted connections who is an expert in the field.

In this program, you and your young adult, as well as any other family who is thoroughly involved, have unlimited call, text, and email support from me. We work on a month to month basis and spend the first few sessions digging deep into what issues are occurring in the family, many of which lie in the subconscious minds of the family members and they are not even aware of them.

Typical candidates for Failure to Launch are between ages 18-32. I specialize in helping young adults overcome anxiety, depression, confidence issues, self sabotage, poor decision making, stress, relationship issues, substance abuse, and healing from bullying or other traumatic experiences.

If your young adult child is struggling with any of the above emotional issues, call us at 412-400-2085 or email with “Failure to Launch” in the subject line so we can begin to provide your child with the tools, techniques, and solutions they need to overcome their struggles and become who they are meant to be.


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