The State of Mental Health in Millennials
According to a survey of over 2,000 Americans, aged 18 and up, (https://www.webpsychology.com/news/2015/10/08/depression-amongst-millennials-%E2%80%93-why-are-they-affected-higher-rates-232931) the Millennial Generation, defined as those born between 1978 – 1999, have seen a steeper increase in both stress and depression levels over the past couple of decades, than any of the generations before them. A study measuring depression across the age spectrum–traditionalists, baby boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z–found that 1 in 5 Millennials who sought mental health services through their employment reported experiencing depression, whereas only 16% of the older Generation X and Baby Boomer participants from the same workplace reported depression. (http://mashable.com/2015/05/21/millennials-depression-work/#_DbG4L3aS5qC) Likewise, in a national survey issued by the American Psychology Association, (APA) results demonstrated above-healthy levels of stress and anxiety amongst the Millennial and Gen X groups, with 52% of Millennials reporting sleep-deprivation as a result of current stress levels. (http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2012/generations.aspx) The adverse effects of depression and/or stress are numerous and potentially life-threatening. These effects can include insomnia, increased risk for substance abuse and addiction, physical pain or illness, decreased immune system, work conflicts, eating disorders, and if not treated, even suicide.
(http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987) With mental health’s ability to affect a person’s health, job, social, and personal functionability, it is more important today than it ever has been to talk about mental illness and how to treat it effectively.
What’s Behind the Increased Mental Illness in Millennials?
While the factors that lead to depression and anxiety vary substantially from person to person, researchers today are searching for the common denominator(s) affecting the Millennial generation specifically. In a national survey conducted by Harris Poll in 2014, financial instability and money concerns have remained the top stress and depression indicators since 2007. (http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2015/02/money-stress.aspx) While Americans across all age ranges have finances at the top of their stress charts, 75% of those aged 18-35 reported significant stress over money, with low-income individuals demonstrating higher increases than all other categories measured. With an economy that has recently seen a decline in unemployment rates, averaging 4.9% of adults, this should presumably be declining. However, the Millennials have not benefited as the older generations have, and the unemployment rate among their community has rested at 12.8%, more than twice that of the generations before them. (https://generationopportunity.org/press-release/millennial-unemployment-rate-stagnant-at-12-8-percent/) This has been attributed to many factors, the strongest being student debt. Between 2004 – 2012 alone, student loan borrowers rose by 70%. With the increasing unemployment rates from diminished job availability and substantial increase in debt, Millennials today are finding it harder and harder to save for their futures. (http://www.usnews.com/pubfiles/USNews_Market_Insights_Millennials2014.pdf)
Other common financial stressors indicated by the surveyed participants included day-to-day expenses, purchasing a home, saving for retirement, and healthcare. Unfortunately, with healthcare residing at the bottom of the list, approximately half of Millennials today are choosing to delay, or even forego medical treatment and visits to the doctor, as they search for ways to cut back on living costs. This has perpetuated their growing need for help while at the same time prevented them from seeking the adequate mental health treatment that would potentially reduce the harmful consequences of stress, and in turn, promote their health and well-being.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety/Stress?
Signs and symptoms of mental illness vary from person to person but there are many common symptoms that, if known, may assist in identifying someone in need of mental health treatment or counseling. These symptoms include, but are not limited to:
A feeling of hopelessness, helplessness, or worthlessness
Appetite or weight changes
Sleep disruption and/or insomnia
Physical aches and pain
Decreased immune system
Diminished sex drive
Dry mouth or difficulty swallowing
Difficulty in decision making
For all generations, especially those most affected within the Millennial generation, seeking help in the first place has been the biggest preventative aspect of treating mental illness. Until the problem has been identified, treatment will not be sought, and the depression/anxiety will continue on its’ path of destruction. All mental health treatment must begin with acknowledging the need for help. Once you have made the decision to get well, your next step is selecting the right therapist to help you on your journey towards recovery.
Psychologist Dr. Eric Levin serves the community of Philadelphia by providing counseling services for individuals and couples seeking mental health treatment. His progressive, therapeutic approach, stemming from years spent learning “belief management”, philosophy, and psychotherapy, has given him the tools to effectively help his patients reach their mental health goals.
Whether you are battling depression from seemingly insurmountable debt, unable to sleep due to high levels of stress and anxiety, or just need some guidance on your journey towards a healthy mind and body, Dr. Levin’s would love to hear from you. Break the cycle and call today to schedule your initial therapy consultation, moving you forward on the path towards a brighter and happier future.