The Millennial generation can’t be summed up in just a few words. We don’t all feel the same way, we’re not all on the same path, and that is a very good thing. But a common theme that you might notice among Millennials, though, is depression and anxiety. Thirty-nine percent of the Millennial generation—people aged 18-33—said their stress increased from 2012 to 2013, and 52 percent said that their stress kept them up at night. According to the same report by USA Today, the Millennial generation also reported being diagnosed with depression and anxiety by a health care professional.
"We don't have data on the specific causes of depression and anxiety in this sample, but it does make sense scientifically that the Millennials who report higher levels of stress in their lives are also reporting higher levels of depression and anxiety." - psychologist Norman Anderson, USA Today
In the 2013 report from USA Today, professionals all agreed that Millennials had reason to be stressed out. We grew up with high expectations for ourselves and the world around us, and the economy that our parents and grandparents set up for us collapsed right from under our feet.
There are other things that encourage our unsure, anxiety-ridden mindset as well. We grew up with more technological and societal changes than any generation before us. We went from computers being a special expense, a box-like object that only the lucky few had to carrying around minicomputers in our pockets. We were behind the fastest civil rights movement of all time. We were raised and sold on the belief that if you reached for the stars and went to college, anything was possible, only for the economy to collapse and college guaranteeing you nothing but a life of debt. All of these changes ingrained just one thing into our minds: nothing is forever and everything can change on a dime, for better or worse.
“Stressed Out” by twenty one pilots said it best with their verse, “When I get older I was told all my fears would shrink / but now I’m insecure and care what people think.”
It’s impossible to find anyone around you who isn’t just as stressed out and unsure of themselves as you are right now. A lot of us are either spending thousands of dollars to maybe get a good-paying job, take whatever job we can get no matter the pay, are sitting around in our parents’ houses trying to figure out what to do with ourselves and our life, or doing some awkward combination of all three at once. Whether you’re a graduating college student with a job lined up or living with your parents with no idea what you want to do with your life, you feel this sense of anxiety and uncertainty no matter what.
It isn’t all bad, though. This sense of uncertainty and 24/7 stress isn’t going to go away anytime soon, if studies and reports are anything to judge by. This uncertainty is good, though. It helps us to stop and think when we need it most, and when we just need reassurance that yes, we’re on the right path for us and doing the right thing.
We just can’t stop for too long, otherwise we become paralyzed with all of the fears and what ifs. Walking our own individual paths is like driving in the dark—we can’t see past our headlights. We can see just enough to know that we’re going in the right direction. There isn’t going to be a big blaring sign telling us where to go, or where to stop, or where to turn, or anything. We have to figure it out for ourselves as individuals, and take it one day at a time. And as we take our individual paths a day a time, we can take comfort in the fact that we’re not the only ones feeling this way.