Young Adults’ Experiences of Depression in the U.S.


Age at interview: 25
Age at diagnosis: 22

Brief outline: Jason’s first serious bout of depression happened once he was away at college, but looking back he realizes he likely had mild depression during childhood. School related stress, problems in relationships, and family issues can make his depression worse. Supportive friends, getting help, exercise, and a change of scene often make it better.

Background: Jason is from a large city in Asia, but is living in the U.S. while he completes his college education. He lives in a dormitory room and plans to return to his country of origin after graduation.

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Jason grew up in Asia and has lived in the U.S. for three and a half years, while in college. He plans to return to Asia after graduation and pursue a career. Jason has been exposed to depression all his life because his mother suffers from it. Domestic violence was also an issue at home. Jason’s own depression has been a “recurring thing” in his life, but he didn’t know “what was really wrong” until it became much worse during his time at college. When his depression is bad, Jason finds it hard to get out of bed, falls behind on school work, isolates himself in his room, and has difficulty sleeping and eating.

Depression cycles in and out for Jason. Much of the time he is doing well. Other times, “triggers” like family issues, stress at school, or relationship problems (particularly with romantic partners) bring depression to the forefront. Jason has not told his family members about his depression because he worries knowing about it would have a bad impact on them. He has come to feel increasingly able to talk about it with friends and acquaintances at school, however, and has found that people have been “pretty supportive and very sympathizing.” Once Jason confides in others, he finds that many of them also struggle with depression or other mental health issues in the “high stress, suffocating, high pressure” college environment. 

The school health clinic at Jason’s college has been a useful resource: he is very glad he overcame his earlier reluctance to go, and feels the short-term counseling he got there has been useful. He also just began taking meds prescribed through the clinic. One substantial drawback of the clinic, though, is that it has been slow making a referral for longer term therapy. 

Jason is “someone who tries to make things better,” and has found a number of ways to address severe bouts of depression. One is to “try to identify what’s the trigger points [are], try to internalize them or resolve them.” Another is to focus on the part of himself that “wants to get better.” He also tries changing his environment when he feels really depressed, perhaps by getting off campus for a while. He suggests that other young adults with depression remember that no matter how tragic or bad things seem there are “always things to be thankful for,” that they seek help from friends and professionals, and that they be truthful with themselves instead of living in denial of the issue.


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