Onset of adulthood: what it is, characteristics and effects on the mind and body

Onset of adulthood is the period after adolescence and before mid-adulthood, between 18 and 40 years old. It is a time when we enjoy good health, complete independence and greater autonomy to explore the world around us.

This stage is characterized by a number of physical, psychological, cognitive and behavioral aspects that we will explore below, as well as understanding the importance of taking care of our physical and mental health during this time to avoid presenting health problems later.

    What exactly is the start of adulthood?

    Young adults are people who have gone through adolescence but have not yet reached full maturity or middle age. Onset of adulthood is the period of age between adolescence and mid-adulthood, the ages of which have been agreed to range from 18 to 40 years, although it must be said that there is a diversity of opinions on its limits.

    Whatever its limitations, what can be said is that the onset of adulthood is one of the longest periods in life and also the one that includes the most changes.

    It should be noted that it was only relatively recently known what was going on during this period, with developmental psychology having had a certain bias focusing more on childhood and adolescence than on what happened in childhood. adulthood. Fortunately, over the past few decades there has been growing interest in the traits that define adulthood as such, and early adulthood in particular.

    At this stage, young adults are full of energy, tend to develop ambition and have great creative potential, which are to be developed with entry into higher education or other forms of specialization after secondary education. Although with some uncertainty and maybe even fear of the unknown, the most common is that this stage begins with emotion, the desire to enjoy their independence and to find out what they really are, leaving behind the stage of great confusion that is adolescence.

      Physical and psychological characteristics of this phase of life

      When they enter adulthood, people leave the primary developmental process behind. In other words, it is understood that their physical and cognitive skills are fully developed or, at the very least, almost ready.

      Physical characteristics

      Young adults are at the peak of physical development and therefore enjoy the time when they have better physical abilities. Muscle strength and endurance are the highest in life, and they can improve it if they know how to take care of themselves. Other factors, such as sensory skills, reaction time, or cardiovascular health, are at their peak, as long as they don’t engage in harmful behaviors such as smoking, drinking, or using drugs.

      It is also in this period of our life that we have the highest energy levels.This is why most professional athletes fall within this range and rarely go beyond 35 without being retired. Thanks to a higher energy level, largely caused by higher testosterone levels, young adults are more likely to explore.

      Towards the end of this stage, especially between the ages of 35 and 40, the body begins to age slowly.. At first the changes will be subtle, imperceptible, but as we get closer to mid-adulthood we will notice them more and more. For example, energy is lost, vision deteriorates, hair begins to fall out, and the immune system has a harder time protecting us from certain diseases. Towards the end of this stage, you also start to lose bone density and muscle mass and it is easier to accumulate body fat.

      Cognitive and psychological characteristics

      In early adulthood, cognitive abilities begin to stabilize. There is debate as to when full cognitive development is achieved, and some experts believe it would be around the age of 35.

      During this time is when relative thinking is consolidated, a characteristic that is generally absent in childhood and begins to emerge more or less timidly in adolescence. This translates into the fact that young adults realize that things are not always dichotomous, white or black, but that there are certain nuances that relativize what is good and what is not.

      So, we can say that young adults are starting to look at every problem from different angles and understand that there is not always a single, clear answer. Critical thinking becomes especially important during this time.

      Early adulthood too coincides with the development of pragmatism. During childhood and adolescence, we barely face serious real-world issues. However, as we reach adulthood, the growing need for independence means that we must find ways to achieve our personal, professional, and academic goals and objectives, even when we don’t know everything or don’t. don’t have it. a good plan of action.

      At an early age, the foundations of beliefs that guide a person’s behavior, values ​​and way of interpreting things are laid. too much it is to give an almost final form to the political ideology and to the vision of what is considered an ideal world for the individual.. This, of course, is influenced by the type of education received at home and the level of education, as well as life experiences, but what all individuals share is that adulthood takes a lot. of form. vision.

        Behavioral and relational characteristics

        As we have mentioned, the body is at its peak of development in early adulthood. Anthropology and evolutionary biology have hypothesized that humans are not biologically prepared to survive well beyond this stage. While this claim is somewhat debatable, it is true that all our systems are at full capacity between 18 and 40 years and we think that’s to make sure we get the most out of our existence.

        Both men and women have the highest testosterone levels during this stage. This is linked to greater physical strength, more energy, and a greater propensity to perform risky activities, driven in part by the desire to feel adrenaline rushing through the veins. Outraged, fertility is also higher around this time, which is shown by the fact that people under the age of 40 have more sexual desire.

        One of the most notable behavioral characteristics of young age is independence, or at least a first approach to it. While it is true that some young people do not leave their parents’ homes, either because they cannot or because they do not want to, their independence is visible in things like running their own economy. , help at home by buying food or paying bills and also in the form of academic independence, studying higher education preferably.


          Although we have already suggested in the previous section, it is necessary to go into detail about how sexuality is imparted in early adulthood because after all, it is one of the most important areas of the lives of most people, something that becomes particularly evident in early adulthood. In general, the sexual desire during this stage is higher due to the increase in sex hormones.

          The way sexuality is expressed at this age varies greatly from culture to culture.. In more conservative societies, people at the start of this stage tend to seek stable partners and start families, while those living in more liberal settings often postpone these events until later than 35 years of age. There is also the possibility of never looking for a stable partner, looking for sexual partners or simply interested in sexual pleasure.

          It’s common for people to want to have as many partners as possible, both to try your luck and find the right one, as well as for the simple hedonistic pleasure of satisfying a sexual need. From the age of 30 and especially from the age of 35, this tendency tends to diminish and there is a greater interest in finding a definitive partner and establishing a stable life with her.

          Early adulthood it is especially important for non-heteronormative people, especially if they come from very conservative backgrounds where their being has been repressed. Young gay and bisexual adults begin to explore their sexuality at this stage, coinciding with more independence and autonomy, and it is usually in early adulthood that one knows their sexual orientation.

            Physical and mental health

            Physical and mental health at an early age is stronger compared to other stages, but it can also noticeably condition what it will be at a later age. The beginning of adulthood is the period during which we have the most physical development and will be able to have. If we do not take good care of our bodies, adopt harmful behaviors such as frequent alcohol, tobacco or drug use, as well as if we do not exercise or watch our diet, this will take its toll on us in mid-adulthood and, most importantly, in the end.

            As for mental health, it must be said that at this time it is particularly sensitive. If the person does not have the psychological resources to cope with adversity such as relationship conflicts, emotional stress, or problems with work and study, sooner or later psychological problems and even mental disorders can develop.

            While it is in childhood and adolescence that the seeds are sown for presenting mental disorders, it is often in adulthood that they can flare up intensely in the form of anxiety and stress issues, phobias, social isolation, depression and other disorders..

            These problems can be particularly serious in early adulthood, but they will likely get worse later with age. This is why it is so important to take care of ourselves while we are still on time, to exercise frequently, and to go to a psychologist to professionally deal with any emotional issues that are troubling us.

            It is also necessary to go to the doctor for a check-up with a certain frequency, in order to identify any disease that could worsen, such as diabetes or cardiovascular problems. Prevention is always the best medicine.

            Bibliographical references

            • Alexandre Rodriguez Puerta. (August 25, 2021). Young adult. Lifeder. Retrieved from https://www.lifeder.com/adulto-joven/.
            • Crain, W. (2011). Erikson and the eight stages of life. Development Theories: Concepts and Applications. Boston: Pearson.
            • Berger, KS (2001). Developmental psychology: adulthood and old age. Madrid: Editorial Médica Panamericana, SA
            • Caudillo, L. (2015) Early adulthood. Faculty of Graduate Studies Acatlán Psychology of the Adult Caudillo Arreguin Lorena.

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