Depression rates in the United States are skyrocketing.
Over the past decade, more and more people in almost every age group, every financial bracket and every circumstance, have reported disturbing symptoms. They lose interest in life, lack the learning to learn new things, and discover that the activities they once enjoyed do not make sense.
Suicide death rates have also risen by 34% in the United States since 2000, and the outbreak is particularly pronounced among groups of men working in construction, stay-at-home moms and students, according to the latest data from the Centers. for Disease Control (CDC).
But nowhere is this worrying trend more noticeable than among young people, as revealed in a study published last week in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.
Based on eight years of data from more than 600,000 people across the United States, researchers have found that more and more young people, especially those aged 20, are going through an extended period of time during which they lose interest in life and recreation much higher than this same age group did just ten years ago. These are signs of a major depressive episode; Typical symptoms may include feeling depressed, tired, worthless or guilty. In addition, people who experience these episodes often do not get enough sleep, have trouble concentrating and can often think of death.
The graph below depicts the trends of depression in an anonymous national survey that asks participants simple questions about their mental health. (The survey is designed to provide information on drug and alcohol use.) The data clearly show that rates of depression are skyrocketing in 12-year-olds and young adults under the age of 12. 25 years.
No age group greater than 25 years has a depression rate greater than 10%, but all groups are young, and this is the rate that has increased the most among adults of university age (from 20 at 21).
The study's lead author, Jean Twenge, who wrote the book "iGen," told Business Insider that these trends were not to be seen as inevitable generational changes.
"We have a generation of young people with depression and suicidal thoughts at a much higher rate, and we should stop trying to explain this further and recognize that it is a problem and try to solve it, "said Twenge. "This trend is also evident in suicide, and is also evident in emergency room admissions for self-traumatic behavior, suicide attempts – behaviors that can not be solved by self-assessment. "
Depression in adolescents can be particularly dangerous
Depression is common: the World Helath Organization estimates that every day, more than one in 20 Americans is depressed. A major depressive episode is not just a bad day; Psychologists define it rather as a lasting loss of interest or a lack of pleasure in life that impacts on the usual routines and daily functioning of a person for two weeks or more.
Read more: These 4 short L-words can help reveal if you are depressed
An episode of depression of this type experienced in a child, adolescent or young adult can lead to mental health problems. Research shows that people with depression during their formative years often have more frequent and severe depressive recurrences throughout their lives.
"When they are followed in adulthood, people with depression experienced in adolescence (compared to those who do not have any) are twice as likely to suffer from pain." 39, a major depressive episode, five times more attempts to commit suicide and are at increased risk of suicide by suicide "the authors wrote.
"The face-to-face social interaction has diminished"
A factor that, according to Twenge, could explain the rate of depression among young people: a decrease in social interactions.
A second study she authored, published Wednesday in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, focused on four decades of surveys of how young people spend their time. The results showed that today's high school students spend a full hour less socializing than teens in the late 1980s. Senior high school students are no longer celebrating. as before: they attend about 17 evenings less than the second year students of the 1980s.
This is not because today's children are diligently doing more homework or spending more time on extracurricular activities. The extra time spent away from friends and peers is consumed by screens, said Twenge. His results suggest that when teens spend more time alone with their device, they feel more lonely and feel more excluded.
"Face-to-face social interactions between adolescents have decreased in the digital age, which has implications for mental health," said Twenge. "Face-to-face social interactions tend to protect against depression in a different way from digital interactions."
Many studies show that from day one, the human eye is a crucial element of social interaction. Having high quality positive social interactions with family and friends regularly can reduce the risk of a person's depression.
According to the Centers for Disease Control's Suicide Prevention Handbook, "Connectivity and social capital can protect against suicidal behavior by reducing isolation, encouraging adaptive adaptive behaviors, and reinforcing the ability to cope." 39, belonging, personal worth and value, to help strengthen the resistance of adversity. "
Research on the effects of time spent in front of a screen is still new, but some earlier data suggest that replacing a child's early social interactions with more time spent on devices could hinder the development of emotional and social understanding. of empathy. Time spent in front of a screen can also make the night more difficult to sleep than spending time outdoors.
"We are programmed to respond to other people in real time by looking at our faces, allowing us to touch each other and feel each other," Twenge said. "The interaction with digital media misses a lot of these elements."
In addition to spending time with others in person, Twenge said that we should all provide time for other activities that improve mental health, such as exercise and sleep, at the same time. away from the ears and whistles of phones and other screens.
Although only a trained mental health professional can diagnose depression or the risk of suicide, everyone can do more to help each other. Asking your peers, family, friends, and children how they are going – and listening to their answers without judgment – is a simple first step.