More and more twentysomethings are struggling with mental health issues
Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health problems and have been referred to as a “silent epidemic”. According to Mental Health Ireland, one in six people will experience a mental health issue, such as anxiety, every year with that figure steadily rising. More and more twentysomething women are struggling with anxiety and panic attacks, many undiagnosed and untreated. While boys are also affected, worldwide studies reveal that more girls are susceptible.
Why is there so much anxiety and panic among millennials?
This is an age group where 75 per cent of mental health problems arise. There are biological, social and psychological factors that contribute to wellbeing. World events have intruded on vulnerable psyches with church scandals, corruption, terrorist attacks, child abductions, murders and celebrity deaths rocking their sense of safety. But previous generations were exposed to wars, recessions, trauma and worse health.
The role of intensive parenting has also been cited as a factor. Young women are less independent with a deficit in coping skills, staying as students and at home for longer. Recreational drugs and alcohol have been found to trigger and exasperate anxiety and panic attacks, but there are more pervasive influences at play across the board.
What I observe as a recurring theme is screen dependence and overthinking. The majority of twentysomethings grew up alongside a plethora of technological advances and social media. Girls have grown up with aspirations to have it all: the toned body; being smart; making a lot of money; being positive and happy. A virtual glossy version of life was sold to them and, as a result, many are plagued by perfectionism, excessive expectations, a harsh inner critic and an obsessive need to achieve.
This is an overstimulated generation. Excessive screen use boosts the release of stress hormones and increases central nervous system arousal. Sleep becomes disturbed which makes you even edgier. Switching off is happening less as young people remain “on” living in an adrenalised way.
Studies have shown that men and women’s brains are wired differently…
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