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! There are more things to be stressed out about now than Generation X or the Baby boomers had to be. 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, deeply concerned about making a meaningful difference, “changing the world”, that they fall into depression when things do not work out that way .
There is a lot more to be 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 a well-paying job, 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 from every corner. Log onto any of your social media websites, you’d find that everyone seem flawless in endless photos that is usually followed by hashtags: #Iwokeuplikethis, #nofilter, #bodygoals #relationshipgoals #travellifestyle. The unrealistic expectations for young adult 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 that is published in the American Psychological Association bulletin, asserts that millennials carry a much higher need for perfectionism, which may lead to elevated and or unrealistic expectations.
Millennials’ money issues and need for perfection is not all to some reasons why they are more depressed than older generations. More importantly, their need to know what’s coming and make the right choices for their future plays a big part. Millennials are faced with big choices that will have lifelong consequences. With money and need for perfection also paying a role in decision making, many young adults today feel profoundly uncertain when it comes to making these decisions.
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 were also quite depressed, but world view on mental illnesses has changed drastically since the baby boomers. With mental health awareness campaign going on all around the United States, more positive connotations being used when it comes to mental illnesses, and the presence of resources even on school campuses and online, millennials are more open to talking about their mental struggles than older generations were able to. Reaching out to therapists has never been easier.
Ade Ajayi is a Mental Health Social Worker and Registered Behavioral Technician. She has many years of experience writing and advocating for mental health awareness. She runs a mental health and lifestyle website, where she shares tools to help individuals work through daily life challenges.