Millennials: The Most Anxious Generation
Thu, April 22, 2021

Millennials: The Most Anxious Generation

From 2008 to 2017, the percentage of people dealing with suicidal thoughts increased by 47 percent. / Photo by: Antonio Guillem via 123rf


Today’s young adults, known as millennials, are equated with negative stereotypes everyday. Some of these stereotypes include being egocentric, shiftless, entitled, hypersensitive to criticism, and unable to cope with the stresses of life. However, they are the same people who are more open with their emotions, diverse, deeply empathetic, and committed to making a substantial change in the world they have grown into.

But there is something that most of us could agree on about the millennial generation: they are extremely stressed out. A recent study by Mind Share Partners, Qualtrics, and SAP found that half of millennials and 75 percent of Gen Zers have left their jobs for mental health reasons. CNBC, the world leader in business news and real-time financial market coverage, reported that this is due to rising workloads, limited staff and resources, and long hours in the workplace. 

The study revealed that younger generations suffer more from mental health conditions. Younger people are more likely to deal with a mental illness at about three times the rate of the general population. Another study conducted by the American Psychological Association reported that there has been a significant increase in the percentage of young adults who are experiencing certain types of mental health disorders in the past decade. From 2008 to 2017, the percentage of people dealing with suicidal thoughts increased by 47 percent. 

The Rise of Millennial Depression

Mental health issues have become one of the most talked-about topics of this generation. Previous studies have shown that millennials seek psychotherapy more often than members of Generation X or other earlier generations. 

A recent study in the International Journal of Epidemiology revealed that overall symptoms of both depression and self-harm increase by the age of 14 in this generation. Between 2005 and 2015, symptoms of depression increased to nearly 15 percent from only 9 percent. Meanwhile, the cases of self-harm have increased from almost 12 percent to more than 14 percent. 

Another UK study reported that younger adults slept fewer than eight hours per night (11 percent versus 6 percent). They also had higher body mass index (BMI) scores than their older counterparts (7 percent scored as obese compared to 4 percent in the older group). According to Healthline, an American website and provider of health information, these figures show that today’s kids are indeed more depressed. 

Aside from depression, anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health problems that millennials are facing today. Previous studies showed that this ‘silent epidemic’ has caused more and more to struggle with anxiety and panic attacks, many undiagnosed and untreated. While boys are also seen affected by this mental health condition, worldwide studies reveal that more girls are susceptible. Also, the millennial generation is an age group where 75 percent of mental health problems arise. Several social, biological, and psychological factors contribute to their unstable mental health. 


Between 2005 and 2015, the cases of self-harm have increased from almost 12% to more than 14% / Photo by: Alexander Alexeev via 123rf


Why Millennials are So Anxious

The American Psychological Association reported that 12 percent of millennials have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. It was also found that 30 percent of working millennials are classified with general anxiety while 61 percent of today’s college students experience frequent anxiety. With these staggering figures, millennials undoubtedly experience a great deal of stress. Most of the time, they find it difficult to properly manage.

While anxiety can take many forms and have many triggers, studies show that millennials, in general, are worried or nervous about the future. They often feel a looming uncertainty. Some of the top reasons for millennials’ anxiety include student debt, a tough job market, ambition addiction, and career crises. Also, this generation is dealing with unprecedented challenges involving a constantly changing political and economic climate. 

According to Psychology Today, an online site that features the latest from the world of psychology, their financial capacity is one of the most common focal points for millennials’ worries. Many millennials are still living with their parents, have trouble finding jobs, or harbor serious concerns about making enough money to start their own lives. Reports show that today’s young adults face greater financial difficulties compared to previous generations.

Being overexposed on social media is also to blame. Technology overload leads to increased feelings of social isolation, anxiety, and stress to the millennial generation. Over-reliance on social media can escalate central nervous system arousal, which can result in increased anxiety while decreasing mood.

“Millennials were the first generation to grow up with the constant flow of information from the internet and social media [and] they are being bombarded with details about the personal and professional lives of others,” Jessica Singh, a mental health therapist, said. She added that millennials often compare their achievements to other people. This leaves them feeling insecure and unaccomplished. 

“Millennials are feeling the pressure to always look and act like they have it all together. This can easily result in lowered self-esteem, anxiety, or depression,” she said.

Indeed, the millennial generation has many things to worry about every day. They tend to prioritize things that will leave them anxious. This is a good opportunity to talk more about mental health. Early interventions, such as wellbeing sessions, need to be implemented across the world. It’s important to acknowledge that anxiety and depression, while often underestimated, can worsen if not treated.