The psychoanalyst Erik Erikson defined young adulthood as the period of life lasting roughly from age 19 to age 40. During this period, key issues have to do with intimacy and isolation. In addition, young adults today face tasks relating to the formation of their identities and the development of their senses of self.
Relationships are often at the forefront of the minds of adults in their 20s and 30s. Marriage is often a question of concern for young adults; the average age at first marriage is roughly 31 years for men, and 29 years for women. Many young adults seek therapy because they are in the process of deciding what sort of partner will make them happy. Some are frustrated because they find themselves unable to meet the “right” person, because they feel that they continue to act out the same unwanted relationship patterns, or because they are trying to contend with feelings of loneliness and isolation.
It is estimated that roughly 42% of adults aged 20-29 live in the parental home. A so-called “boomerang kid” is an adult child who has left home at some point in the past to live on their own and has returned home. For some adults in their 20s and 30s, this is a suitable arrangement. Others, however, struggle with the position they are in. They would like to leave home but feel unable to do so. There may be various reasons for this – including feelings of anxiety surrounding the prospect of functioning on their own.
Depression affects roughly 5% of 18-39 year olds. It is known to be especially prevalent among undergraduate and graduate students: one study has found that 30 percent of college students reported feeling “so depressed that it was difficult to function at some time in the past year.”
On average, Canadian mothers have their first child at around 30 years of age. It is estimated that 9-16 percent of postpartum women will experience postpartum depression. Among women who have already experienced postpartum depression following a previous pregnancy, the estimated prevalence increases to 41 percent. Clients experiencing postpartum depression are generally motivated to understand their feelings depressions in order to function more effectively and make the most of their time with their children.
Roughly 4 percent of adults 18-29 years old, and 7 percent of adults 30-44 years old will experience generalized anxiety, which is defined as excessive worry about “everyday” problems over a period of several months.
Young adulthood can be a tumultuous time, but this also makes it an important time for self-exploration, which can lead to growth and insight.