Facing challenges in life and raising questions about an individual’s purpose does not always result in improvements or positive changes. When an existential crisis occurs, individuals question their beliefs, goals and purpose in life.
If the crisis is not handled in an appropriate manner, then an individual becomes depressed. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, or ADAA (1), depression increases the risk of substance abuse by two to three times when compared to the general population.
Even if the cause of depression is an existential crisis, a loved one has a risk of substance abuse.
What is an Existential Crisis?
According to Psych Central (2), existential depression occurs when an individual questions his or her life, death and reason for living. By worrying about his or her purpose in life, the individual becomes sad or depressed.
Existentialism, according to Psych Central (2), is a philosophy that explains the search for meaning and purpose in life. It suggests that humans seek purpose and meaning in life that is outside their personal religious beliefs.
Anxieties About Life and Death
Unfortunately, questions about an individual’s purpose also leads to worries, concerns and a feeling of hopelessness.
An existential crisis occurs when an individual worries about his or her life, death and reason for living to the point of depression.
That feeling of hopelessness or the lack of purpose impacts an individual’s state of mind and ultimately causes a form of depression.
Young Adults and Existential Depression
An existential crisis does not only impact adults – it also impacts teenagers and young adults. The Davidson Institute for Talent Development (3) explains that gifted children and teenagers often experience existential depression because the world around them does not meet their expectations or ideals, which leads to disappointment or a sense of hopelessness.
Young individuals ask questions about the world around them, their purpose in the world and the way that their life impacts the world. Unfortunately, questioning personal ideals and purpose causes an existential crisis.
The University of Minnesota (4) says that existential depression is pervasive and often irrational. A specific situation, like the loss of a loved one, is not necessary for an existential crisis. Since it does not always have an obvious cause, the depression often persists.
Risk of Substance Abuse and Treating the Crisis
Depression increases the risk of substance abuse and addiction. According to ADAA (1), around 20 percent of Americans with depression or similar mood disorders abuse alcohol or other drugs.
When a loved one abuses drugs or alcohol after an existential crisis, seeking professional treatment is essential. Depression contributes to substance abuse because an individual is self-medicating.
Identifying and Treating the Causes
By identifying the underlying depression and treating the addiction at the same time, your young adult or loved one can recover from substance abuse and regain his or her positive perspective.
Feelings of hopelessness or a pervasive sense of disappointment in life and the world does not always result in positive changes. Worrying about an individual purpose sometimes results in depression and a consistent pessimism.