Whether still in college or out in the job market, twenty-somethings are getting hit by the symptoms of an early midlife crisis. Coping with the anxiety and fear that comes with the twenty-something's existential gloominess, some find relief through anti-depressant pills, others through chatting online with complete strangers who share similar despair. Trapped between adolescence and adulthood, most people in their twenties are experiencing anxiety, and sometimes depression, as they turn into adults and try to envision their future lives.
"From my perspective, the 20s can be a distressing period and some young adults experience depression or anxiety because they are at a turning point in their lives, where they have to become more independent, have to make serious plans for the future, and start a serious relationship," said Dr. Dara Vines, Santa Monica College psychologist.
Hitting the 20s, young adults panic as they are suddenly expected to become responsible for their fate for better or worse, and make choices that will ultimately affect their entire lives.
"I feel that I should be more responsible about my choices, because this is a crucial time where I am paving my path," says Lauren Sugarman, an SMC student who just turned 21. Increasing educational opportunities can be source of confusion for twenty-somethings who need to decide on a career path. "I used to have a clear idea about what job I wanted to have when I graduate, but the more I study, the more confused I get about what direction to take because my
interests are constantly changing," said Sugerman. "I think being unsettled it's typical of our generation."
Some young adults like SMC student Robert Goldstein are willing to compromise their need for independence, or for a social life in order to achieve academic goals. "I choose not to have a girlfriend because school is more important for right now," says Goldstein.
For most twenty-somethings, succeeding academically is a crucial step toward building a promising future. "I am 26 and it sucks to still live with my parents, but it's giving me time to focus on school and not worry about paying rent, or bills," Goldstein added.
Considering the harsh reality of having to find a stable job, pay the bills and hopefully be able to afford a home one day, is indeed a major source of anxiety for twenty-somethings who have just graduated.
"In the past five years, the prices of homes have tripled, the cost of living has gone up, and the job market has become unstable, so if you put all these factors in front of a twenty-something, it's quite an obstacle to overcome," said Laurent Bertet, a 31-years-old real estate agent. "The uncertainty of how is going to be your life tomorrow is definitely depressing."
Quaterlifecrisis.com is of the few emerging websites that seek to help twenty-somethings expressing their insecurities and fears through forums of discussion, which raise major problems encountered by young adults. "I definitely think that chatting online with people in their twenties who are going through the same type of crisis can offer a valuable perspective and eventually help," says Alex Yalen, member of Quaterlifecrisis.com. "I don't have this type of quarter-life crisis discussion ever outside this website, so for me it is a good place to raise specific questions and express my feelings."
Opinions diverge on whether or not online chats are the healthier way to resolve early mid-life crisis. "Online chats can be a risk if you rely too much on anonymous relationship, and not real relationship," said SMC psychologist Dara Vines. "It's probably not the healthier solution."
Commonly believed to be the easiest and faster way out of depression, psychiatric medications do not provide twenty-somethings with long-term positive changes without the help of a therapist. "The use of medication has increased in general as people can now get a prescription through their regular doctor without going through therapy, but therapy and
medication really go hand in hand," said Vines.
And as 23-years-old Alex Yalen sums it all, "In our society, there is a
tendency to want to cure it all with pills, but it's just not the way it works." There are alternatives to the never-ending pill popping, and with the right resources, mid-life crises could be the least of our worries.