Study Finds Modern Youth Five Times More Affected by Mental Health Issues

The years of the Great Depression are frequently referenced when evoking feelings of turmoil, stress, and despair over economic conditions and the course of life in general. But in some ways, those who lived through the Great Depression may have enjoyed a higher quality of life than modern populations. So suggests a recent study performed at San Diego State University, in which researchers compared survey results between college students and adolescents of the Great Depression era with those of today’s younger generation. The study found that modern youths weren’t simply more likely to experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns. The results show that the young people of today are five times as likely to experience such issues as their Great Depression-era counterparts.

While the statistics-–which show that depression itself rose from one to six percent, and hypomania from five to thirty one percent, among other indicators–may seem startlingly strong to some, the study’s lead author goes so far as to suggest that the self-reported answers about mental health issue symptoms may have produced lower rates than are actually present within the modern population due to higher numbers of adolescents and young adults taking anti-depressant and other psychiatric medications.

Mental health professionals, educators, parents, and young people themselves are of course interested in discovering precisely why the rise has been so dramatic, though many suspect that increased expectations among youth, higher focus on financial success, and increased dependency on parents during childhood may be to blame. The study helps to make the case for the involvement of complex and long-term personal factors in the development of mental health concerns rather than a simple correlation with the state of the economy.

© Copyright 2010 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • nathan bracken

    nathan bracken

    January 12th, 2010 at 5:32 PM

    There is no doubt that in the modern days there is just too much of pressure on just everybody and the younger people in used to be simple life in the olden days,but today everybody is trying to outdo the other in all the possible ways,from looks to possesing things to everything.although competition is good it has now turned sour and is therefore putting excess burden on each one of us.hence this report comes as no surprise,at least to me.

  • V H

    V H

    January 12th, 2010 at 5:43 PM

    The standard of living and the facilities that we have may be increasing, and increasing at a rapid pace. But all this comes to a naught if we do not have peace of mind and containment. In trying to out do each other, we are running at a speed that cannot be sustained for long by any one of us, and this is what is leading to pressure and mental health problems.

  • A. Fletcher

    A. Fletcher

    January 13th, 2010 at 2:42 AM

    New age problems like stress and fast pace of life are to be blamed for this… there used to be great rlation between people before but all that has eroded now with bitter feelings everywhere :(

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