Coping with grief can be a challenge for young adults. They're at a point in their lives where asserting an independent streak often means making a demonstration of not turning to others for help. It's important, however, to know when it's time to intervene and discuss their needs with a grief counselor. Looking for these four signs may help you navigate a potentially tricky situation.
Ceaseless Anxiety or Depression
It's easy to buy into the stereotypes of anxious or depressed young adults, but you should keep an eye out for serious shifts in mood, especially ones that don't seem to let up. If a young person withdraws socially, that's a major red flag, particularly if they had previously been very social.
Try to keep in touch with their professors and friends, as it can be hard to monitor behavior changes just within your household. Should you need to approach a major problem, it can also be advantageous to have a support system there to help you explain why they might need to go to counseling.
Interest in Violence
As much as it might seem normal to want to lash out at the world while dealing with grief, a young adult should have basic coping mechanisms in place to manage problems in a healthy manner. Interest in violence may include actually doing harm or simply talking about it. In either situation, you should consult with a professional who handles troubled youth treatments and decide how to approach what's going on. Contact a service like Lifeline for more information.
Mental Health Problems
A young adult may have kept an ongoing mental health issue, such as bipolar disorder, under control up until they started grieving. If a mental health problem appears to have emerged out of nowhere, it's worth considering whether it had been there all along and became harder to control during a rough patch. Working with a counselor may allow a young person to reacquire self-regulation, but they should also be prepared to explore therapies aimed at addressing deeper challenges.
Obsession with Appearance
Fixating on appearance is often a sign that a young adult is trying to cope with something. This can be tricky because it doesn't always manifest itself in the form of something obviously bad, such as anorexia. Even if the behavior seems overtly positive, it's prudent to treat anything out of the ordinary as a cause for concern.