2 Reasons Why Mental Illness is Skyrocketing in Young Adults
Most of us think of our teens and 20s as the years when life is full of parties and good times. But it isn’t always fun and games for every 14- to 27-year-old who make up “Generation Z”. Disturbing new research shows that teens and young adults are more likely to feel stressed, depressed, or even suicidal compared with millennials when they were the same age. The researchers noted a 71 percent increase in young adults reporting psychological distress and a 63 percent jump in those with symptoms of depression. Among adolescents, the incidence of depressive symptoms jumped by 52 percent. And nearly twice as many in the GenZ population have thoughts about suicide.
What’s behind the rise in mental illness?
The researchers pointed to two likely culprits.
1. Excessive Tech Use
Being tethered to our smartphones isn’t helping our mental health. Several studies have found that heavy social media use is associated with a greater risk for anxiety and depression, loneliness, feelings of isolation, self-esteem issues, and suicidal thoughts. In a study of over 1 million teens, researchers found that those who had less time screen time and more face-to-face time with friends were happier than those who spent more time on the internet, playing computer games, doing social media, texting, using video chat, or watching TV. Another study from 2018 found that when college students limited social media time to no more than 30 minutes a day for three weeks, they reported significant reductions in depression and loneliness, as well as less anxiety and FOMO (or “fear of missing out”). Tech addiction is real, and teens are particularly vulnerable to it.
2. Lack of Sleep
Sleep is vital for mental health, and teens need more of it than adults. For optimal cognitive function, teens require about 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night, but less than 9 percent are getting adequate shut-eye. Research has found a link between a lack of adequate sleep and mental illness in teens. One study that looked at nearly 28,000 high school students found a 38 percent increase in symptoms of depression and a 58 percent rise in suicide attempts for every hour of sleep lost. This same study also found that sleep deprivation was also tied to a 23 percent increased risk for substance abuse. Addiction is often associated with co-existing mental health issues.
Addiction to technology and lack of sleep not only increase the risk of mental illness, but they can also disrupt the important processes that are taking place in the developing teen brain.
At Amen Clinics, we have spent decades helping people of all ages improve their brain health as part of a comprehensive treatment approach to mental health and wellness. For more information, call us today at 888-288-9834 or schedule a visit.