A new study, published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, found that young Americans are in the midst of a unique mental health crisis. Researchers proposed that teens are experiencing more serious psychological pain, depression, and suicidal thoughts in the last decade than older generations.
Intensifications in depression and mental stress are may be due to increased use of electric communication and digital media. This is because it changes our way of interacting with people, further affecting mood disorders. The effects of social media have a much higher impact on teenagers than preceding generations who have lived afar the borders of the digital age.
Nowadays, social media became almost mandatory for youths and smartphones were also something that affected them directly. It was a fundamental change in how they spent their time, not just an event in the news or a trend they heard about from their parents.
The scientists also stated that teenagers don’t sleep as much as previous generations. This is because they tend to be late-night screen addicts. It not only keeps them up later but also has been shown to disturb their sleep cycles.
Researchers report that in the last 10 years, cultural trends may have had a greater influence on suicide-related outcomes and mood disorders among youngsters than older generations. At this time, the use of opioid hit its top in the US. Therefore, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared that overdoses were at “epidemic levels”.
The scientists note that this younger generation could be more disposed to “admit to mental health problems” than older generations.
What does the study say?
Researchers examined the data of approximately 1 million respondents in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. It produces data on alcohol, tobacco, drug use, psychological health, and other health-related problems.
Between 2005 and 2017, they discovered that psychological health problems increased in youths between 12 and 17, along with young adults aged 18 to 25 while compared to older generations. The rate of youths reporting symptoms consistent with depression over the former year increased by 52%. During this timeframe, the number jumped from just under 9% to 13.2%.
Young adults reporting serious mental distress increased by 71%. However, the rate of young adults with suicidal thoughts or tendencies increased by 47%. In the meantime, they noted no increase over the same time period in older adults. In reality, adults over 65 years practiced a slight drop in mental stress.
Researchers report that more U.S. teenagers and young adults in the late 2010s, than the mid-2000s, practiced serious mental distress, suicidal thoughts or major depression, and more attempted suicide. These tendencies are much weak or non-existent among adults over 26 years. It suggests a generational shift in mood disorders instead of a general increase across all ages.
Future prospects of the study
The research team says that their work offers a greater understanding of how digital communications affect mood disorders. Moreover, it paves the approach to develop future intervention methods.
Moreover, young people cannot change their genetics or the economic condition of their country. But they can choose how they expend their leisure time.
These findings of the study propose a need for further research to comprehend how digital communication versus face-to-face interaction effects mood disorders and suicide-related consequences and to develop particular interventions for youngers.
Until then, researchers suggest to put your phone down at least an hour before your bedtime.