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The Millenials: A Depressed Generation?

social_mediaResearch has recently reported that “Eight percent of 12-17 year-olds in the United States have experienced at least one major depressive disorder in the past year”.

Some may argue that this may only be the result of much greater recognition and diagnosis of depression as an illness than in the past. Dr. Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University and others say it owes to the rise in materialism and narcissism in what she has termed “Generation Me.”

Teenagers today are easily some of the most enthusiastic users of social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr and as a group their Internet use is near universal—a full 95 percent of teens are now online.

This has provoked anxiety and raises many concerns, and one of which is the effects of heavy media use on mental health that are still being studied. So teen internet use has risen in recent years, and teen depression and psychopathology has risen five-fold since the early part of the 20th century. Dr. Twenge and colleagues have conducted research on these issues and possible interactions and have indicated that this generation of teens present as relatively less civic-minded, less caring about social and political issues, are less interested in working towards solutions to environmental concerns, and have less empathy or interest in social justice. Is this true?


If so, then this generation of millenials are more “externalized” and perceive that their lives are more influenced by external forces than by internal motivation. This can affect the degree to which a person is able to manage stress effectively, feelings of helplessness, and decreased self-control.

These results are not fact and studies and research is still being conducted. Some argue that depression has not risen with this generation and teens of the millennial generation are simply reporting their depression more frequently and more able to communicate it.

We are not clear which is fact but Dr. Twenge has reported that teens need to move from constant self-promotion to feeling gratification from real achievement in order to prevent further increased rates of depression.  These studies continue to be challenged but the results need to be considered.

The Millenials: A Depressed Generation?

Jessica O. Hunter, Psy.D.

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APA Reference
Hunter, J. (2015). The Millenials: A Depressed Generation?. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 19, 2019, from


Last updated: 20 Dec 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 20 Dec 2015
Published on All rights reserved.