*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on PsychCentral.
A new study finds that depressive symptoms, serious psychological distress, suicidal thoughts and behaviors have jumped significantly among young Americans just over the past decade.
Interestingly, older adults did not experience an elevation of mental health issues, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.
Jean Twenge, Ph.D., and a team of co-authors analyzed data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a nationally representative survey that has tracked drug and alcohol use, mental health and other health-related issues in individuals age 12 and over in the United States since 1971.
“More U.S. adolescents and young adults in the late 2010s, versus the mid-2000s, experienced serious psychological distress, major depression or suicidal thoughts, and more attempted suicide,” said Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State University.
“These trends are weak or non-existent among adults 26 years and over, suggesting a generational shift in mood disorders instead of an overall increase across all ages.”
The researchers looked at survey responses from more than 200,000 adolescents age 12 to 17 from 2005 to 2017, and almost 400,000 adults age 18 and over from 2008 to 2017. Study results appear in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.
Investigators discovered the rate of individuals reporting symptoms consistent with major depression in the last 12 months increased 52 percent in adolescents from 2005 to 2017 (from 8.7 percent to 13.2 percent) and 63 percent in young adults age 18 to 25 from 2009 to 2017 (from 8.1 percent to 13.2 percent).
They also discovered a 71 percent increase in young adults experiencing serious psychological distress in the previous 30 days from 2008 to 2017 (from 7.7 percent to 13.1 percent). The rate of young adults with suicidal thoughts or other suicide-related outcomes increased 47 percent from 2008 to 2017 (from 7.0 percent to 10.3 percent).
There was no significant increase in the percentage of older adults experiencing depression or psychological distress during corresponding time periods. The researchers even saw a slight decline in psychological distress in individuals over 65.