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More Young Adults, Teens Experience Mental Health Problems In Past Decade

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According to a new study, more teens and young adults appear to be experiencing mental health issues in the past decade. What could be the factors contributing to such issues?

Generational Shift In Mood Disorders

For the new study, researchers analyzed data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which tracks drug use, alcohol use, mental health, and other health issues among individuals 12 years old and older.

Researchers found a 52 percent increase of reports of symptoms consistent with major depression among young people from 2005 to 2017. Specifically, in 2005, 8.7 percent of the respondents aged 12 to 17 reported major depression, but that percentage increased to 13.2 percent by 2017. That number was even higher among young adults aged 18 to 25, as the rate of those reporting major depression upped by 63 percent, from 8.1 percent in 2009 to 13.2 percent in 2017.

Interestingly, there was no significant increase in the percentage of people experiencing major depression among young adults aged 26 and above. In fact, they even found a slight decline in psychological distress among those 65 years and older.

According to researchers, this suggests a generational shift in mood disorders rather than it being an overall increase in psychological distress across all ages.

Social Media Use And Sleep

While researchers did not specify a reason for the increase, they surmise that it may be tied to cultural changes rather than genetic or economic issues. For instance, the young adults born in the late 1980s and early 1990s may be struggling with mental health because of the way they use digital media.

Only recently, a study revealed that heavy social media users were two to three times more likely to develop depression than those who do not use it. Furthermore, the lack of face-to-face interactions also increase the risk for depression, while excessive screen use may also be leading the youth to sleeping less, thereby also increasing their chances of developing depression.

Researchers say that their results show a need for further studies, but they also note the importance of taking a closer look at how leisure time is used in a way that it can protect people from psychological distress.

The study is published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

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