Transition: “a change from one state or condition to another” (Merriam-Webster, 2016).
As the definition indicates, a transition is signified by change. This is the key word. Change brings about newness and the unknown. Change may interrupt established habits or disturb what is comfortable. Change, as a result of transition, is often difficult for people. Every person experiences transition as part of the human experience. Some of these transitions include childhood ->adolescents, young adult -> adult, living with parents -> living independently, and college -> working professional. These are only a few examples of major life transitions
Each person is unique and no transition is the same. However, many people experience symptoms of anxiety or depression during these major transitions. As a clinical social, I have seen many people panicked in fear that something is terribly wrong. Much to their surprise, they are usually in a normal transitional period. As human beings we are focused on mile stones such as graduating college, moving out of a parents house, turning 30, etc. In the excitement of reaching these milestones, people fail to recognize periods of transition, which either precede or proceed these achievements. An example of this would be a someone who has moved into their first apartment from their parents house. Of course this is a great milestone, but this doesn’t mean things will remain status-quo. This transition can bring about many new changes, which can lead to feelings of depression and/or anxiety. Perhaps the person finds themselves alone more often. Maybe they struggle to prioritize their finances or maybe they don’t enjoy the responsibility of an apartment. All of these changes, which have occurred as a result of a transition, can be difficult to overcome.
Another example of a transition that may bring about difficult feelings is from young adulthood (21-29) to adulthood (30-55). In young adulthood it may have been acceptable to go out every night and stay out late. Perhaps the excessive use of Tinder was appropriate as well. Maybe there was not much pressure to be in a stable relationship or to have landed a dream job. Young adulthood may have been a casual phase of life, free from societal pressures. However, once someone turns 30 or enters into adulthood, this may change. Turning 30 doesn’t mean that everything clicks into place over night. Absolutely not! As part of this transition, the person may begin to experience social pressure to have a stable career or to be in a committed relationship. It’s possible that they may feel as if they are way behind the 8 ball . Although it may feel that the changes should occur overnight just as they turned 30, there is a significant transitional period one will experience before adulthood begins to feel normal.
Transitional periods are where most people get stuck. They feel like they have encountered a major life crisis. Fortunately, they have not. They are experiencing a very normal disruption. Transitions are universal among all humans. Of course, there are skills to help someone work through anxiety or depression, but most often, the passage of time is the ultimate fix. A person must endure the transitional period. I have found that once I have normalized a transitional period for someone, their anxiety significantly reduces.
How about you? Have you experienced anxiety or depression that has been alarming? If so, it is possible that you are in a transitional period.
Matt Ryan, LMSW for Bike and Brain
Please note: Anxiety and depression is a serious medical condition. If you feel like a harm to yourself or others, please contact 911.