Millennials are reporting increasing rates of depression, anxiety and stress. Depression diagnoses alone are up 31% for millennials since 2014 with depression now affecting 5.5% of millennials in West Michigan.1
Why is the rate rising is not completely clear, however many factors have been identified such as lack of a supportive community, financial and work stress, pressure to be always connected and more. Millennials may also report at a higher level than past generations at the same age because mental health screenings are more available than in the past and Millennials are more educated about mental health.
The good news is that individuals can do much to protect and strengthen their mental health.
Stop trying to be a Superman or Superwoman.
Being a perfectionist or having too high of expectations of yourself is a psychological/social risk factor for depression and anxiety. We often fall into this trap honestly. Television, magazines and social media show men and women having a fantastic career, being wonderful parents, losing their baby weight in less than a month, looking good all the time, having it all, doing it all. Measuring ourselves to this standard (which is often an illusion) is sure-fire recipe for disappointment, feelings of failure and stress.
Focus on better self-care.
Research shows that self-care can reduce as well as protect us from the effects of stress. Self-care can also improve overall physical and mental health. Find a healthy balance for yourself that includes a healthy diet, exercise and sleep. Remember, you don’t have to do it perfectly.
Find a community and nurture your connections.
Having strong social support increases your ability to manage stress, improve your mental and physical health, and can even help you live longer. Your community can be large or small. It can be made up of family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, people you met through your religious community, a volunteer organization, a fitness group or a hobby club. It can be in-person, online, through video chat or on the phone. There are no rules except to find and nurture relationships with people you can talk to and are supportive.
Look into debt consolidation and or financial planning programs.
According to a recent Stress in America survey, money is the number one stressor for Millennials. Having a plan to reduce debt and get your financial house in order can help reduce your financial stress.
Seek help when you need it.
Anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions affect millions of Americans each year. The good news is that in most cases treatment can greatly improve quality of life and help individuals get back to “feeling like themselves”. If you experience symptoms that are interfering with your ability to function or enjoy life, be sure to seek treatment from a qualified professional such as your primary care physician or a mental health therapist.