Are Millennials the Most Depressed Generation?

Adebolanle Ade, MSW, RBT
Updated on October 24, 2022

It’s hard to think that adults born between 1981-1996 could be a generation more depressed than others. With fast growing technologies, lifestyle, the use of social media, and a new “hot” topic developing every minute, they’re probably too busy to be depressed, right? Wrong! Although there are a lot of common negative stereotypes attached to this generation – egocentric, hypersensitive, slothful, the truth is that, unlike others, these young adults are more empathetic and deeply concerned about making a meaningful difference that they fall into depression when things do not work out as hoped.

Millennials and Depression

There is a lot more to be sad and stressed out about as a young adult now than in the past. Money is one of the common focal point for millennials’ stress. Compared to other Americans, from older generations, millennials face greater financial difficulties that can lead to depression and anxiety. Many experience a hard time finding a well-paying job; not having one, for a lot of them, means that their bills, including rent, utilities, school loans, and lifestyle will suffer.

How can you be a “successful” young adult in this day and age when you cannot prove it to others? Older generations did not experience the societal pressure that the millennials are experiencing now, or at least, it wasn’t shoved to their faces at every turn. Log onto any of your social media websites, you’d find that everyone seems flawless in endless photos followed by hashtags: #Iwokeuplikethis, #nofilter, #bodygoals #relationshipgoals, and #travellifestyle.

The unrealistic expectations for young adults to present in a certain way is a huge pressure that is driving a lot into depression. Today’s modern society is full of self-critical, perfection-seeking individuals who are addicted to the high of social media. A study published in the American Psychological Association bulletin, asserts that millennials carry a much higher need for perfectionism, which may lead to elevated and unrealistic expectations.

There are other factors that could explain why depression is higher with this generation than in the past. Millennials are more open to talking about their personal struggles than older generations. Maybe older generations also had high rates of depression, but the social stigmas and lack of awareness interfered with it being reported on.

With mental health awareness campaigns going on all around the world, greater acceptance of those with mental health conditions and the presence of therapy resources online, millennials are more open to talking about their mental health struggles than the previous generations. If this is truly what’s behind this seeming surge in depression, then the problem is not as dramatic is often perceived. Either way, we are fortunate enough to live at time when seeking out professional help has never been easier.

Adebolanle Ade, MSW, RBT

Adebolanle Ade is a Mental Health Social Worker and Registered Behavioral Technician. She has many years of experience writing and advocating for mental health awareness.