Out of order

In her book Prozac Nation, Elizabeth Wurtzel described depression as: “That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end.”

Her fight, as highlighted in the autobiographical book, was able to barely scratch the surface of the mental problems young adults deal with.

In 19 studies conducted across 12 countries in 2014 by the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, it has been highlighted that young adults, especially millennials, are more likely to suffer from and are suffering from mental illnesses.

It is a familiar sight to see a group of teens bent over phones or gaming devices, checking in, tagging each other, posting pictures and commenting, and waiting impatiently for all their cyber friends to ‘like’ their work, or re-tweet their location, or post an accompanying video.

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

This trend has provoked anxiety, raising a range of concerns, from sex predators to promoting a sedentary lifestyle. Less noticed has been the effect of heavy media use on mental health.

But just as teen internet use has risen in recent years, teen depression and psychopathology has risen five-fold since the early part of the 20th century.

It has been found that:

* 1 in 10 children and young people aged 5 – 16 suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder that is around three children in every class.

* Between 1 in every 12 and 1 in 15 children and young people deliberately self-harm.

* There has been a big increase in the number of young people being admitted to hospital because of self harm. Over the last ten years this figure has increased by 68%.

* More than half of all adults with mental health problems were diagnosed in childhood. Less than half were treated appropriately at the time.

* Nearly 80,000 children and young people suffer from severe depression.

* Over 8,000 children aged under 10 years old suffer from severe depression.

* 72% of children in care have behavioural or emotional problems – these are some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

* 95% of imprisoned young offenders have a mental health disorder. Many of them are struggling with more than one disorder.

* The number of young people aged 15-16 with depression nearly doubled between the 1980s and the 2000s.

* The proportion of young people aged 15-16 with a conduct disorder more than doubled between 1974 and 1999.

One study revealed that teens suffering from depression had diminished responses to rewarding stimuli, such as genuine assurance of a job well done, a friendly affirmation from a friend, or small monetary compensations for the actual completion of tasks. Follow-up research showed that 20 year-olds who experienced depression as teens still have muted reward responses, indicating that help needs to be offered as early as possible.

Teen depression of course can have significant consequences, such as the increased likelihood of substance use and abuse, social withdrawal, strained relationships with family and friends, and in the worst cases, suicide.

Though there is no conclusive study in 2015 that has a fixed number of millennials suffering from depression and other mental disorders, psychiatrists and psychologists are assured that till they disconnect from the internet and start kicking it old schools, things are going to remain out of order for them.

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“Depression is not drinking coffee and shaky hands holding a cigarette or writing poetry late at night. It is not sleeping in cold winter mornings or a book store visit where you meet the love of your life and they somehow put the broken pieces back together with a smile.

Depression is staying at home all the time and sleeping for four days in a row. It is greasy hair because you have not showered in a week. It is not eating. It is tear stained pillows and trash covering every inch of your room because the very thought of cleaning it makes you feel sick. It is a pill when you wake up. It is like slow moving traffic in your brain you want so desperately to get out off if you want find the nearest exit but you are stuck. It is therapy every Wednesday. It is telling your friends you are busy when in reality you cannot handle the thought of leaving your bed. It is a report card with all failing grades and trying to explain to your mom that you will do better the next time when you both know that is a lie.” – Depression isn’t beautiful (via Tumblr)

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