Depression and anxiety are not limited to a certain age group, but they have become increasingly troublesome for younger generations. New data from the Pew Research Center shows that teens consider mental health issues to be more concerning than bullying, addiction and teen pregnancy. Here we explore why these issues have become so prevalent and what families can do to minimize teen depression and anxiety.
Study Shows Teens Consider Anxiety and Depression a “Major Problem”
The Pew Research Center interviewed 920 teenagers, age 13 to 17, across the United States. They asked the teens to rank issues based on how problematic they were in their community. A staggering 70% of respondents said anxiety and depression were a “major problem,” and another 26% said they were a “minor problem.” That means only 4% of teens did not think mental health issues were a concern among their peers.
To put matters into perspective, only 55% of teens said bullying was a major problem, followed by drug addiction (51%) and drinking alcohol (45%). Peer pressure and bullying are still important issues among teenagers, but the primary concern is shifting toward improving mental health conditions.
Why Are Teens Anxious and Depressed?
Anxiety and depression are personalized experiences. Every teen – and every person for that matter – has a unique set of experiences that contribute to depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns. However, social media is at the root of many of these factors.
Social media provides a space for people to showcase a filtered, alternative version of their reality. Teens are bombarded with these false representations of perfection, and they naturally begin comparing their lives to others. Social media addiction is another concern. Seeing a notification, such as a like or comment, releases a small amount of dopamine in the brain. That’s the same chemical that gets released when someone smokes a cigarette.
Children also receive a high level of screen time at an early age, which causes attention difficulties and overstimulation. In the Pew Research Center study, 40% of teens said they feel bored every day, and 29% said they feel tense or nervous every day. Simply put, changes in society have had a spiraling effect on today’s youth, and they continue to become more problematic with each passing year.
What to Do about It – Reducing Depression and Anxiety in Teens
Unfortunately, there is no universal answer for how to prevent or overcome depression and anxiety in teens. As we mentioned above, these issues and the factors surrounding them are unique to everyone. Some teens may find peace with reduced screen time and more extracurricular activities. Others may benefit from journaling about their experiences or talking to peers in a support group.
If you would like to find a personalized solution for your child, consider teen counseling, family counseling, and the other services we offer at MHR Memphis. A therapist can work with your teen to address the specific issues he or she is facing and come up with custom solutions based on proven results. To learn more about the process or to schedule an appointment for teen counseling, call (901) 682-6136.