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

Pete

Male
Age at interview: 25

Brief outline: Pete’s depression became noticeable as a young adult, but looking back he thinks he had some depression in childhood too. He does not have a medical diagnosis, but is being helped by therapy. He encourages others to get help when they feel bad. He does not want to try medication.

Background: Pete lives with his mother and cat in an apartment in a large city. He is Hispanic. He has worked various jobs in the past and is looking for work.

Audio & video

Pete was aware of depression from an early age since it is prevalent in his family, and also because his mother is a clinician. Both of his parents struggled with it at various times. There were hard periods of time growing up when he thinks he might well have been depressed, but was “too proud to admit it”. In the last two years, however, he experienced lasting and serious depression. It was triggered by the death of his grandmother, who lived right across the hall and with whom he was close. Another friend also died, and he split up with his girlfriend. He saw “serious signs” -- like isolating himself, being irritable, losing his appetite, not wanting to leave his room, and no longer finding joy in things he loves. He realized he “seriously needed help”, so he started seeing a therapist.

Therapy has been helpful for Pete. It was a big step for him to confide in a therapist since he is a “very private person”, a very “prideful person” who has not wanted to tell other people about his depression because he worries it would tarnish his reputation and make him be seen as week even though he is a “very large, very strong guy”. He is glad he reached out for help. He and his therapist are together considering the risks and benefits of medication, but he has not yet tried it. He found his therapist by calling people off a list of 400 names provided by his insurance company, but wishes he had asked his primary care doctor for a referral that might have saved time.


Pete finds that when he is depressed and goes outside, sometimes all the emotion he keeps inside “comes out and it doesn’t stop”. He might find himself crying in the middle of the street. Depression made work hard for Pete and he lost his job, but is looking now for another one. His niece and nephew bring him great joy and he forgets about depression when he is with them. He is always helpful to friends, his ex-girlfriend, and others who rely on him but may not realize he struggles with depression. Going “one day at a time” works best for Pete, remembering that “yesterday wasn’t a terrible day, you know, I was thankful for that. Today isn't that bad…Hopefully tomorrow is the same and that’s all I really go with”. He continues to work towards “becoming a man” and “standing on his own two feet” as a young adult.

It is important to Pete that other young adults with depression know not to give up, and to seek help “as early as possible” rather than “waiting like I did”. They should go through their doctor, and do it quickly, even if they don’t want to admit there is a problem. He also wants them to know not to “drink too much when you are depressed. That’s all I can really say”.

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