Mental Diseases affecting the Youth

Mental health is one topic that is usually shrugged off by most people, as it is presumed to be trivial. A common African saying goes -“A madman does not know he is running mad, only those around him can witness some disparity upstairs.”

Mental diseases can affect individuals of any age. Young adults are particularly vulnerable to developing these disorders. This could be due to changes in life circumstances, relationships and social pressures.

Mental illnesses can significantly impact a person’s emotional, social, academic and professional life. It is crucial to address them to help the youth lead fulfilling and productive lives.

In this section, we will discuss some of the most common mental diseases that affect young adults.


Depression is a mood disorder that is characterized by persistent sadness, loss of interest in activities, and feelings of hopelessness.

It creates symptoms that negatively affect how you think, feel, and handle daily events, like eating, sleeping or working. Such symptoms MUST be prevalent for TWO weeks before the person can be diagnosed with depression.

Youths are particularly vulnerable to depression due to the significant changes that occur in their lives, such as the uncertainty as they transition from adolescence to adulthood, relationship challenges, academic pressure and financial challenges.

2. Anxiety

This is a state of unpleasant state of mental uneasiness and concern about some uncertain event. It is characterized by intense fear, worry, unease, panic attacks and avoidance behaviors.

Anxiety disorders are prevalent among the youth. These could be due to factors such as academic pressure, family stress and social pressures. Social media and the internet have also significantly led to the rising levels of anxiety among the youth. Young adults can easily compare themselves to others online. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem.

Untreated anxiety can significantly impact an individual’s emotional and social well being and can lead to depression, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts.

The subsyndromes of anxiety include panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), acute stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, specific phobia and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

3. Bipolar disorder

This is a mood disorder characterized by fluctuations between high and low moods. Young people with bipolar disorder may experience manic episodes. These are characterized by high energy levels of impulsiveness and reckless behavior. They are followed by depressive episodes with feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest.

These symptoms can severely impact a person’s emotional and social well-being. They can progress to complications such as substance abuse and suicidal thoughts.

4.Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

This is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention. ADHD can impact a young adult’s academic or professional life, social relationships and emotional wellbeing.

Such people have a difficulty in concentrating, staying organized and completing tasks. This affects their ability to succeed academically or professionally.

Early identification and intervention of the above disorders is crucial in addressing them. Most of the syndromes may proliferate to suicidal behaviors. The World Health Organization ranks suicide as the second leading cause of death among the youth aged 15- 29.

This therefore necessitates an early intervention as it can make the huge difference in the lives of such people.

Parents, caregivers, educators and healthcare personnel should work together to create a safe and supportive environment to this group. They youths should be able to seek help without fear of stigma or discrimination.

Mental health is as important as physical health. It is high time to break the silence and talk openly about mental health issues affecting young adults.