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Staggering Increase in Mental Health Issues among Young Adults

Staggering Increase in Mental Health Issues among Young Adults
Image: Tara Moore / Getty

Some experts claim that the idea that there’s an epidemic in anxiety or depression among youth “is simply a myth." But a new analysis of a large representative survey shows that the epidemic is real. In fact, the increase in mental health issues among teens and young adults is nothing short of staggering.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health surveyed over 600,000 American youth and young adults and the results are startling.

-From 2009 to 2017, major depression among 20-21-year-olds more than doubled, rising from 7 percent to 15 percent.

-Depression surged 69 percent among 16-17-year-olds.

-Serious psychological distress, which includes feelings of anxiety and hopelessness, jumped 71 percent among 18-25-year-olds from 2008 to 2017.

-Twice as many 22-23-year-olds attempted suicide in 2017 compared with 2008, and 55 percent more had suicidal thoughts. The increases were more pronounced among girls and young women.

-By 2017, one out of five 12-17-year-old girls had experienced major depression in the previous year.

Tragically, suicide also jumped during the period. For example, the suicide rate among 18-19-year-olds climbed 56 percent from 2008 to 2017. Other behaviors related to depression have also increased, including emergency department admissions for self-harm, such as cutting, as well as hospital admissions for suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.

Jean Twenge, “The Mental Health Crisis Among America’s Youth is Real—and Staggering,” IFStudies.org (3-18-19)

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