Rates of Depression
The increasing rates of depression among American youth have recently been a hot subject in our constantly updating news cycle. Anxiety, sadness, and suicide are all more common among adolescents than among adults. Covid-induced isolation, social-media-induced alienation, excessively concerned parents who weaken their children’s resilience, and shifts in cultural values are only a few of the hypothesized reasons for this trend.
Rates of Depression
How We Interpret the Events in our Lives is a significant Contributor to both Melancholy and Anxiety.
Psychiatrist Aaron Beck, who did seminal work in the field of mood disorders, proposed a theory that depression results from what he called “the cognitive triad” of elements. These include negative views about yourself, the world around you, and the future. So, what if we sought to discover what it is about this time in history that is driving so many of our young people to feel so bleak.
Growing up means learning the intellectual, social, and occupational abilities that will allow you to support yourself. That has always been the case, but in today’s technology age, many young people end up continuing their education and training long into their twenties. During this period, they are typically still financially and socially reliant on their families and are continually reminded that their value as a person is tied to their level of education and professional achievement. Many other young people, however, lack the support system or educational background to compete successfully in today’s economy.
However, they are constantly bombarded with images of others on social media who appear to be more gorgeous, successful, and accomplished than they are. It’s tough to have a healthy self-image if you feel that you’ll never measure up to the standards set by your family, teachers, future boss, and friends on social media. Teenagers have always had to find their own path in the world, but I think it was simpler before the rise of Instagram influencers and their airbrushed feeds.
Adolescents who are trying to find out what they want out of life, tend to be pessimistic about the individuals they watch. Young people may conclude that attempting to advance in life is futile if they observe their parents fighting for promotion or working long hours to maintain their current status. Social issues, political turmoil, and distrust of leaders are not novel, but the constant coverage in today’s media makes every flaw seem more egregious.
It’s not surprising that many young people believe they can’t trust anyone, given the prevalence of purposeful disinformation and the erosion of faith in institutions like churches, schools, hospitals, and businesses. The corruption itself is nothing new, but the continual reminders of it are. It’s hard to believe, looking back from today, that most people were unaware that Franklin D. Roosevelt used a wheelchair, that John F. Kennedy had extramarital affairs while in office, that many organisations simply hid the bad behaviour of their employees, or that our military wasn’t always acting heroically.
Pundits frequently claim that older generations were braver than today’s kids, but they forget that national pride was far more widespread when the news was sanitised to show only the best side of events. During World War II, the blitz of London was used to demonstrate the Nazis’ bad intentions and the British people’s courage. The impact of the Allied blitz on the city of Dresden was not portrayed, but the city was nearly levelled and civilian deaths were greater than those in London, when measured as a proportion of the overall population.
Negative thoughts about the future:
Today’s youth are living their lives surrounded by news of economic problems, catastrophic climate change, and atrocities occurring throughout the world. That many people feel uncertain about their future prospects is maybe not unexpected. Sixty percent of young adults are concerned about having children because of climate change, and many are afraid they will never be able to afford a home or repay their college loans. Furthermore, most young adults do not have faith in the current generation of leaders to make any real changes.
But can we really believe that? Is the future any less bright for them than it was for previous generations?
In terms of material comfort, our lives are unparalleled by those of any previous human population. The complexity of the global economy makes it difficult to grasp, let alone anticipate, how things will turn out, and we certainly confront big difficulties in terms of addressing social and racial injustices. But in the grand scheme of things, human rights are getting better all over the world, we have social safety nets like Medicare and Social Security that didn’t exist in this country a century ago, and even millennials have defied the odds that were stacked against them because they came of age during an economic downturn and were therefore doomed to a life of poverty.
Anxiety, fear, proactive coping, and optimism in the sense of confronting rather than avoiding adversity are all traits that may be taught. We should all educate ourselves about the media and learn to critically evaluate the information we get on a daily basis. We may demand that our media sources show greater responsibility (solutions journalism), and we can approach social media with more rationality and less passion. We built and released it without considering the long-term effects, like we do with most technological innovations.
Not even this is a whole new development. Before tackling concerns of quality of life, we created medical ways to prolong the lives of the terminally sick. We developed and employed nuclear weapons before adequately addressing the moral concerns that arise from their use. However, the influence of technology and social media has been harder to identify and counteract since it has been more subtle than the explosion of a bomb.
That doesn’t mean we can’t intentionally choose to control its influence on our life, and to communicate,directly and regularly, to our kids about its worth and its difficulties. We need to do better if we want our youth to have a more positive outlook on life. It’s far simpler to point fingers than it is to offer answers. It’s far simpler to idealize the past or fear the future than it is to work towards positive change in the here and now.
The youth around us may be younger than us, but they often lack our experience and wisdom when it comes to problem-solving and seeing the big picture. Just as complaining about the state of the world will do nothing to improve it, voting will do nothing to change the political landscape. The future depends on a generation that is more proactive and resilient, and we owe it to them to demonstrate how to do so and explain the benefits to themselves, their communities, and society at large.
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