This Is Why More and More Children Are Depressed or Anxious Each Day

In the past 50 years, the rates of anxiety and depression in young people have been steadily increasing. Today, there are around eight times more college and high school students that are diagnosed with anxiety or depression than half a century ago.

The most recent results that support these claims come from a study led by Jean Twenge at the State University at San Diego.

Together with her colleagues, Dr. Jean issued a questionnaire to assess the different mental disorders that have been correlated with some college students in the US.

She even analyzed the results from 1938 and 1951. The results were all consistent with other research. Moreover, it pointed out a dramatic increase in depression and anxiety in adolescents, children, and young adults.

All these results kept increasing in the last decades.

If we had learned something from history, we would have noticed significant progress in our happiness and mental health. However, ever since the 1950s, we have been going only backward.

Why Did We Never Advance?

The younger generation has to always come face to face with the realistic changes and dangers of the uncertainties of the world.

But, these changes have nothing to do with wars, cycles, or any other major world events that people often believe are the main reason behind mental stress.

According to results, rates of depression and anxiety were significantly lower during World War II, the Great Depression, and the Cold War. However, they were extremely turbulent during the 60s and 70s.

As the results claim, these changes might have something to do with the way the younger generation view the world.

The Younger Generation Has No Control Over Their Life

The main thing that could cause depression and anxiety might be closely related to the people’s lack of control of their own fate.

The children who are in complete control over their lives, on the other hand, are less likely to develop depression and anxiety.

The real reasons behind such claims are:

  • prejudices
  • limited options
  • attraction to a specific gender
  • race
  • gender

Moreover, a huge amount of children are not allowed to make choices or control their own destinies.

Supported by Studies

To confirm these results, researchers issued a questionnaire even back in the 1950s. In this questionnaire, there are 23 pairs of statements.

In each pair, there is one statement that represents a person’s control over their own fate, and the other represents a person’s ability to control his fate based on the circumstances that come outside of that person, or from outside influence.

The volunteers who took the test had to decide which pair and statement are more true.

According to the studies, the volunteers who chose the first statement fared better in life than those who chose the second one.

General Shift in Intrinsic and Extrinsic Goals

According to Twenge, the reason behind the increase in depression and anxiety lies in the major shift from “intrinsic” to “extrinsic” goals.

The Extrinsic goals are connected to the outside influence or judgments and material rewards, while the Intrinsic ones are connected with a person’s development.

For example, being able to complete endeavors that could prove meaningful in life. These endeavors are all chosen by the individual himself.

Therefore, no one can affect that person’s decisions or goals in life.

As Twenge suggests, the younger generation today is more focused toward the extrinsic goal rather than the intrinsic one. As a result, they are not able to take complete control over their life and destiny.

In the end, they develop depression or anxiety. In other words, people today have less personal control over their own achievements and intrinsic goals.

Instead, they always focus on the materialistic aspect of life.

Therefore, they have no control over their emotional state and overall wellbeing.

What This Shift Represents?

This shift serves as a proof that the general population is mainly focused on the culture of materialism, says Twenge. This culture has been massively transmitted through the media in all sorts of forms.

Even since birth, children are exposed to these forms of advertisements and messages that imply happiness comes from material goods, popularity, and good looks.

According to Twenge, the reason behind the constant increase in depression and anxiety comes mainly from these factors.

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