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Rise Of Perfectionism Among Millennials May Lead To Depression, Eating Disorders

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Findings of a new study have revealed that young people today are harder on themselves and on others compared with those of previous generations.

Rise Of Perfectionism

The study, which looked at the data of more than 40,000 college students, revealed that perfectionism among young adults has reached new heights. Researchers warned this inclination toward perfectionism is also taking a toll on their mental health.

Study researcher Thomas Curran, from the University of Bath, and colleagues asked the participants to complete a test that measured three types of perfectionism, namely, the irrational desire to be perfect, having unrealistic expectation of others, and perceived pressure from others to be perfect.

They also looked at the changes in levels of perfectionism from the 1980s to 2016 and found that college students today scored higher in all types of perfectionism compared with college students in the past.

"Perfectionism is rising among millennials," Curran said. "Today's young people are competing with each other in order to meet societal pressures to succeed and they feel that perfectionism is necessary in order to feel safe, socially connected and of worth."

Effects Of Perfectionism On Mental Health

Researchers said that the rise in perfectionism among millennials can lead to social isolation and body image issues.

They also think that these young people's tendencies toward "multidimensional perfectionism," or perfectionism driven by unrealistically high expectations, could be to blame for their record-setting levels of mental-health issues that include depression, eating disorders, and anxiety.

Reasons Behind The Rise Of Perfectionism

Researchers offered some possible explanations for the rise of perfectionism among young adults over the past 27 years.

"We speculate that this may be because, generally, American, Canadian, and British cultures have become more individualistic, materialistic, and socially antagonistic over this period, with young people now facing more competitive environments, more unrealistic expectations, and more anxious and controlling parents than generations before," researchers wrote in their study.

Social Media

The researchers also associate perfectionism with social media use, citing this can make people compare themselves to others. Earlier studies have already found evidence that show the toll of social media use on mental health.

In a 2016 study involving young people, researchers found that the participants spent more than an hour on social media per day. Not less than 25 percent of the study's participants showed symptoms of depression. Another study also found that too much time on social media is associated with increased depression and suicidal thoughts in teenage girls.

The new research was published in the journal Psychological Bulletin.

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