<%rssLink ()%> <%googleAnalytics ()%>

Are millennials diagnosed with mental disorders more than other generations?

Other directories: help, engl1190, umw, lane, commons, open, adp, n490, hyp, mac, psu, cfcs

Answer: Yes

Compared to the later years, there are higher rates of self-report for both anxiety and depression. A large portion would be college students with high stress levels seeking counselors for relief from anxiety or possible depression. There are claims that those with anxiety and depression would been diagnosed differently in golden generations, compared to now. Another claim states that millennials that spend more time on social media and less time in face-to-face interactions can aid to their lower self-esteem. There's also the theory that normal behaviors in the past were technically not, and there's research that says we didn't have the right resources for gathering information on mental illness. The growth in psychology and the definition of mental health has changed and broaden more over the years as more research comes up, and new illnesses and disorders are discovered. The conclusion is yes, however, with a lot of research the answer is subjective due to the number of claims.

Origin and Prevalence

The above meme was shared originally by a facebook page called U.S Democratic Socialist, and amassed almost 10,000 likes and reactions. It referred to an article by The Atlantic, and articles like it, that claimed the reason millennials and young adults suffer from more mental illness is because of technology and social media. However, this was not where the claim originated. Many sources claim that there has been a surge in the number of students and young adults who claim to have anxiety or depression, an article by the New York Times claimed that anxiety is the new mental health crisis. However, since then there has been a giant surge in the number of students who claim to have anxiety or depression, the New York Times also claimed that anxiety is the new mental health crisis surpassing depression in previous generations and a final article by the New York Times claiming that more american teens than ever before are suffering from anxiety, and Forbes claiming that there has been a surge in mental health issues amongst working millennials. There have been some controversies surrounding this claim.

Issues and Analysis

When referring to mental illness, there are three key categories that, for the most part, encompass all issues millennials are facing. These categories are anxiety, stress, and depression. A 2016 study by the Association for the University and College counseling Directors showed that an average of 50.61% of college students seeking counseling were looking for support with overlying issues of anxiety whereas 41.23% were looking for support in relation to problems with depression. This is a significant increase from past reports of depression.

Teens, millennials and college age students report significantly higher levels of stress with a study completed in 2 015 by the American Psychological Association revealed 39% of millennials that reported an increase in stress over the past year, and the other 52% said that stress had caused them to stay awake at night on multiple occasions within the last 30 days (2012). In a yearly survey, the American College Health Association found an increase to 62 percent in 2016 of students reporting anxiety in the previous year.

In addition, it seems as though Millennials also suffer more from mental illness than previous generations. A 2013 survey by USA Today reports that the percentage of millennials being diagnosed with anxiety and depression far surpasses the percentage of any other generation; 19% of millennials are diagnosed with depression and 14% have been diagnosed with anxiety. Every other generation has a smaller percentage, with the smallest percentage being people age 65 and older, of which 4% have been diagnosed with anxiety, and another 4% diagnosed with anxiety.

In a piece analyzing these claims, The Atlantic brought to attention the role that smartphones and social media have in aggravating the issue, with teens who spend more than 3 hours on social media a day reporting a 35% increase in risk for mental health issues. The article also claims, that the reason behind the lowered self-esteem and mental health of millennials can be attributed to the fact that they are ill equipped to deal with the pressures of the real world. They spend more time on social media, and less time dealing with other's on a face to face basis.

However, even with this information, there is still a question of whether it's a generational problem. Ronald Kessler of Harvard Medical School claims that anyone that has depression or anxiety now, would not have been diagnosed in the same way or with such ease. An article by National Public Radio (NPR) goes more in depth into this issue. They claim that rates of depression had not gone up, and that while there is currently a higher documented rate of suicide, the findings really can't be compared to previous generations because before the 2000's, researchers did not have an efficient system for collecting data on mental illness. In addition to the discrepancy of research, the DSM III, which was written in 1981 accepted that some things that were considered normal behaviors in the past were not, and the DSM IV expanding that definition significantly, claiming that almost any disruptive pattern or behavior can be considered a mental disorder.

NPR also refuted the claims that Millennial's are poorly equipped to deal with life, claiming that social media does not encourage mental illness, but rather gives teens and young adults more information about it. Online, people are more likely to share information about how they feel, and allow others the opportunity to relate. They also claimed that while millennials are being raised differently than other generations, it does not mean that they are unable to handle pressure, but rather they are just taught to handle the pressure in a different way.


Denizet-lewis, B. (2017, October 11). Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering

From Severe Anxiety? Retrieved November 06, 2017, from


Figure 2f from: Irimia R, Gottschling M (2016) Taxonomic revision of Rochefortia Sw.

(Ehretiaceae, Boraginales). Biodiversity Data Journal 4: e7720.

https://doi.org/10.3897/BDJ.4.e7720. (n.d.). doi:10.3897/bdj.4.e7720.figure2f

"History of the DSM." DSM History, American Psychiatric Association, 2017, www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/practice/dsm/history-of-the-dsm

Jayson, S. (2013, February 07). Who's feeling stressed? Young adults, new survey shows.

Retrieved November 06, 2017, from


Landrum, S. (2017, January 17). Why Millennials Are Struggling With Mental Health At Work.

Retrieved November 06, 2017, from


Mayes, R., & Horwitz, A. V. (2005). DSM-III and the revolution in the classification of mental

illness. Retrieved November 06, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15981242/

Singh, M. (2015, October 12). Is The Resilience Of Millennials Underrated? Retrieved November 11, 2017, from https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/10/12/446928518/is-the-resilience-of-millennials-underrated

Twenge, J. M. (2017, August 04). Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? Retrieved November 11, 2017, from https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/09/has-the-smartphone-destroyed-a-generation/534198/

Williams, A. (2017, June 10). Prozac Nation Is Now the United States of Xanax. Retrieved

November 06, 2017, from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/10/style/anxiety-is-the-new-depression-xanax.html

Suggested Reading:

APA Assembly: Six Decades of Working for Members. (2012). Psychiatric News, 47(15).


Farnsworth, S. (2017, March 02). Millennials are facing a mental health crisis, and it was entirely

preventable. Retrieved November 06, 2017, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/millennials-are-facing-a-mental-health-crisis-and_us_58b812f4e4b0e9d19b926583

All Content released CC0 (Public Domain) by the Digital Polarization Initiative.

The Digital Polarization Initiative is a cross-institutional project that encourages students to investigate and verify the information they find online. Articles are student-produced, and should be checked for accuracy before citation as sources.

DigiPo members can edit this page

Photo Credit: Header photos generate in randomly. Check this page for a list of photography credits and licensing.

The Digital Polarization Initiative is a student-run project which allows university students to investigate questions of truth and authority on the web and publish their results. Learn more, or see our index. Photo credits here. DigiPo members can edit this page.