Depression has possibly at one time affected or currently affects almost every living individual worldwide. Kids, teens, and young adults in the twentieth century were always identified as more susceptible to feeling depressed, typically due to nothing more than normal changes of physical and mental maturity. However, in her book Generation Me, Jean M. Twenge addresses that “being young has not always carried such a high risk of being anxious, depressed, suicidal, or medicated”. She tells that between only 1% to 2% of Americans born before 1915 felt depressed at least one time in their life; considerably less compared to today’s 15% to 20% of Americans (105). In previous generations, serious depression heavily affected middle-aged adults; however, within the Millennial generation, depression seems to be quite an affliction (Twenge). Common life tragedies aside, this change in the youth of America is most assuredly due to each individual's cultural, social, and environmental influences.
I believe the evolution of the idea of “the pursuit of happiness” over the progression of American culture significantly contributes to depression among youths. In today’s culture, many young people experience it as an over whelming pressure to succeed. A leading chiropractic college, Life University found that 68% of Millenials admitted to being bothered by stress from work and/or school (U.S. Millennials). Many of them may be able to adjust accordingly; however, on a dim side some have an overwhelming amount of pressure put on them by misunderstanding parents and authority figures. Many people generally understand that experiencing constant pressure to perform to high expectations can take heavy tolls on a young mind.
For the Millenials, the pressure to succeed seems to come from all aspects of their life, including their friends, parents, school teachers/professors, and employers. American culture also commonly includes an expectation for most high school graduates to attend a university, to which acceptance has become more competitive. Examiner.com confirms the competitive pressure with information on the latest announcements made by universities nation-wide. This year the number of applications to colleges elevated but most university acceptance rates dropped at least a little, for example: the University of Chicago had a 42% increase in applicants for the class of 2014 and accepted only 18%, 9% less than the previous year (Stanford).
The Millenials do not only experience influence to succeed from their educational experience, but also social influences from their friendships and in the sub-themes of their entertainment and pop-culture. Broadcast all over magazines and television are images of rich, classy people displaying an array of the finest possessions; the common attitude perceived by young Americans demonstrates an idea that anyone can be rich, successful, and even famous if they work hard enough. Twenge agrees with this, stating “Perhaps because of media exposure we want to be millionaires, to be famous...It’s all we’ve seen on T.V. and movies since we were babies”. She goes on to explain that millenials are growing up with larger expectations than their predecessors, and therefore are more vulnerable to disappointment. The study conducted by Life University also discovered that 53% of todays young adults have poor self-image, and that 20% are unsatisfied with the direction their life seems to be headed (U.S. Millennials). A constant demand for their success seems to toll heavily on the minds of many of the Millennial generation. An aspect that does not aid their case of stress and depression is that they have grown-up in times where punishment and discipline are scarce. Many of them fail to handle even simple criticism easily due to being told they are destined to succeed all their life.
It has been my observation that perhaps the largest contributors to the...