The rise in suicide prevention hotlines and depression awareness makes us wonder how did it get this bad. Or is it that people weren't aware of this condition in the previous generations? Let's have a look at why the rate of depression is high amongst the millennials.
Who are millennials?
To know who millennials are, let's take a brief look at generation cohorts. Generation cohorts is the grouping of people based on a specific period of their birth. Each cohort or generation has a personality and characteristic of their own. Millennials are those born between the early years of the1980s to the mid-1990s. They lie between Gen X and Gen Z, two polar in characteristics.
Depression awareness in Millennials
To understand the rise of mental disorders in millennials, we first need to understand the characteristics of three generations; GenX, GenY (or millennials), and GenZ. GenX can be called a cautious generation. They aren’t as tech-savvy as GenY and GenZ but they don’t refrain from using it either as far as they are watchful. GenZ has grown up seeing their parents use smartphones and by the age of 10, they even have a smartphone for themselves. Caught in between these two are the millennials.
Millennials are further categorized into two parts; those who have graduated and are settling into a new job and those who have started a family and are probably bringing up a toddler or two. The period in which the millennials were born also saw the boom in technology, the internet and social media and experienced the first great recession- two major factors contributing to the current situation. When observed, there was one particular type of stress almost every millennial dealt with: work-related stress.
Factors that caused a rise in depression among millennials
Two major factors that contribute to the increase in depression in millennials-
● Job - To GenX job was about making money and not sitting at home. Many women from GenX are comfortable to take the role of a homemaker post marriage with their husbands having to provide. GenZ is all about passion and exposure to options. To them, a job is about doing what they like. To add on, they are from the generation where there is a lot of awareness on cruelty-free products, veganism and saving the earth. They have options to explore the path less taken without the stigma of societal pressure. The millennials, on the other hand, are a confused bunch. Stuck in between the pressure of having to take up a job for livelihood and the urge to follow their passion, millennials find themselves lost in an identity crisis. They are constantly in a battle between wanting to quit the job to pursue their passion and the fear of going broke if they quit the job. A major lot eventually ends up getting used to the drudgery.
● Internet and social media - There has been a major advancement of the internet and social media in the past 10 years. GenX, though struggling to understand the use of it, still has Facebook accounts and are comfortable in getting their information from traditional media such as newspapers and televisions. GenZ practically knows no life without smartphones and the internet. Quite a few are also social media influencers. GenY is trying to juggle the idea of non-mainstream occupations that are aided by social media as well as try to live up to the expectations (which requires money) set by their peers on social media. Social media is deceiving that way as none of the negative phases of people’s lives is posted. Everything looks peachy and aesthetically pleasing on Instagram accounts. Naturally, while sighting this, millennials feel jealous, sad, hopeless, after hours of comparison and eventually depressed with their lives.
This didn’t happen overnight. It took a comfortable 4-5 years for impressions to be bottled up and finally turn into feelings of worthlessness. There is also an alternate line of research that the lack of vitamin D also causes depression which makes sense as most of the millennials lack Vitamin D. This could be because of the sedentary and easy lifestyle which the generation before millennials didn’t get. But does this mean that the previous generations didn’t suffer from issues like this? They did but the numbers weren’t high as it is now. They also weren’t in the current situation as millennials are plus mental health was a taboo. Thanks to the growing awareness, mental well-being is considered equal to physical well-being and has helped many people along the way.
A few simple ways to combat this would be
● To stop comparing with peers and understand that everyone fights their own battles.
● Set a healthy lifestyle with good food, exercise, outdoor exposure, and meditation.
● Taking baby steps towards your passion, working on it consistently, and having a positive attitude.
● Practising mindfulness and gratitude.
● Talk to a counsellor if needed.
“Depression taught me the importance of compassion and hard work, and that you can overcome enormous obstacles.” - Rob Delaney