American women have never had it so good. They have more independence, more autonomy, more opportunity, more authority, more relationships, more freedom, more hookups, more orgasms and more free contraceptives … than any generation of women before them. They have overcome femininity,housewifery and homemakerdom.
How’s that working out?
Apparently, not very well. Women in the millennial generation now report higher levels of depression than any previous generation. This is not to say that men are not competing in the dysfunction derby, but young women are doing better at being depressed.
One notes, in passing, and for context, that the mental health profession has, over the past three decades, made great leaps forward in treating depression. And we know about many non-medical treatments for depression and anxiety-- like aerobic conditioning and yoga.
And, as you know, the Affordable Care Act has allowed everyone access to the new medical treatments. So, one is forgiven for being surprised to discover that, apparently, these treatments are not doing so well. Perhaps they serve to attenuate symptoms, but they do not seem to be very effective otherwise.
To be fair to psychiatrists, when people look merely at treatment modalities they often overlook the causes of the outbreak. One understands that all of the wonderful advantages that today’s young women have… listed in my first paragraph… might not be the formula for mental health and emotional well-being.
If one asked the price women paid for these advantages one would note that they are now being pushed to compete against men in men’s occupations, that they have far more unsatisfying and even traumatizing relationships in which they allow themselves to be used for sex and then discarded, and that their lives lack structure.
Even if you believe that the wonderful opportunities young women have today did not come with some trade-offs, you are excessively naïve.
MarketWatch has the story:
Millennials report higher rates of depression than any other generation and are now the biggest sector of the workforce, creating new challenges in work culture and mental health treatment. And they’re not alone: Recent research shows depression is becoming more prevalent in younger women. Between 2005 and 2014 the number of depressed teens jumped by more than half a million, three-fourths of which were teenage girls according to a recent study in the journal Pediatrics. These mental health struggles are extending themselves into the workplace, with millennial women far more likely than their male counterparts to experience burn out and depression.
Examine the case of Hannah. Surely, you are asking yourself why she does not avail herself of the free healthcare that is now being provided to everyone. And one notes that, according to Dr. Richard Mollica of Harvard Medical School, having a job is generally an excellent anti-depressant. But not for Hannah. It seems strange, but we do not know anything about Hannah’s life outside of the office, so we cannot speculate. In truth, we do not know what is going on inside the office either.
Here is Hannah’s story:
Hannah, a 24-year-old marketing coordinator at a film company, has struggled with depression and anxiety since she was 17, but working at a 9 to 5 job in the last few years since she finished college has significantly worsened her illnesses. Although she has been in her current role for more than two years, she only recently told her human resources representative about what she was going through.
She struggles with motivation on the job and the depression-related exhaustion she tries to combat by chugging coffee throughout the day, and she regularly has to take days off for her mental health. “There is so much stigma around mental illness it feels like it’s not a valid excuse to not be able to work,” said Hannah, who fears she will be judged by her current and future employers so much that she requested MarketWatch withhold her last name. “It’s funny to think about it but I was out for five full days with no problem because I had strep throat, but when I take one day for depression it feels like I’m cheating the system.”
Oh yes, blame it on the stigma. And on the fear of being judged. One would like to know how Hannah is addressing her problem… beyond chugging black coffee… but we do not have enough information to offer further speculation.
The article adds this salient point:
Depression in the workplace manifests itself in a number of ways, including absenteeism — skipping out on work completely — and “presenteeism,” a lesser known problem when an employee does show up to work but is not working at full capacity due to underlying mood issues. Often people with untreated mental illnesses are unable to hold a job longer than six months and may lash out at customers or employers.
What excuse do they have for not seeking treatment? If anything, taking Prozac and other SSRIs has become perfectly normal, if not a badge of honor. I don't know where these young people are living, but very few people in my neighborhood are not taking one or another psychoactive medication.
Still, these millennials feel stigmatized:
… many employees — particularly millennials, are avoiding treatment due to stigma. “The worst part of it is an anxiety around missing work to take care of my mental health, or taking huge gaps out of my day to quell my anxiety,” said Clare, a 25-year-old who works in public relations and who also requested that MarketWatch withhold her last name.
Apparently, millennials are also criticized for being lazy and barely functional. Again, we blame it on the stigma. Because if no one notices that you are lazy you are not lazy. Right? In different terms, millennials tend not to address their problems but tend to blame them on someone else:
Her generation is constantly criticized for being lazy, self-entitled, and unable to handle work-life balance — all stigmas that come along with mental illness as well.
Obviously, this problem did not begin last month. Hannah has been having problems since she went to college seven years ago. Nevertheless, MarketWatch manages to blame it on the Trump administration, because now Hannah fears that she is going to be deprived of free contraceptives and of the psychiatric care that she is not using anyway. If Hannah is self-medicating with black coffee I would guess that she is not taking an SSRI or receiving any other treatment.
Anyway, MarketWatch says:
Mental health services saw a huge spike in demand the day after the 2016 election, and a study on medical interns (median age 27) from the University of Michigan’s stress and depression research center Sen Lab found the election had “an immediate and striking impact” on their mental health. Many cited fears the president would repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and restrict women’s access to reproductive health services as major stressors. The ACA requires insurance plans to cover mental health services.
Here’s a radical thought—for which I will apologize in advance. Wouldn’t some of these women feel a bit better about themselves if they stopped worrying about contraception and abortion and stopped hooking up with men who use them for sex and then throw them away. They have been encouraged-- certainly not by me-- to think that they should have sex like men, with no strings attached and no commitments. It doesn't seem to be working out very well. I know this will sound like heresy, but perhaps Susan Patton was right. Perhaps women should be thinking of marrying younger… thus alleviating the anxiety about family?
But, how many times does one need to point out that the currently accepted life plan is detrimental to women’s mental health. If only these young women respected themselves and their bodies they would not be obsessing about contraception and STDs.
Just a thought.
Why is this happening? Why has the millennial generation succumbed to mental health problems? Marketwatch has an answer:
Clare believes some of the stressors specific to her generation are major reasons for the rise of depression and anxiety. This includes a rising cost of living, more pressure to do well, crippling student debt and even the divisive political climate. “There is a huge pressure for people to find their foothold in their dream careers much earlier — an anxiety to figure it out as fast as possible and find the dream job that meets all the goals,” she said. “Anything less feels like failure.”
If you are in an especially cranky mood you might ask yourself whether this generation was trained—in school—to achieve and to succeed in the world of work. All indications are that it has not. All indications are that it has been brought up on a diet of unearned praise and that it suffers from bloated self-esteem. When compared to their counterparts around the world the American millennial generation is dysfunctional and cannot compete. Link here.
One does not need to say so, but in the interest of fairness one will. Some professionals suggest that today’s millennials are not more depressed. They are more aware of the signs of depression and therefore recognize it more readily. It’s all in the perception, didn’t you know it?
Obviously, this does not explain why American millennials are less competitive than their counterparts around the world. And, it does not consider that all of this talk about depression and other forms of mental illness in schools might be inducing children to start feeling depressed. Everyone knows that first year medical students imagine that they have all the illnesses they are learning about. When you teach high school students the symptoms of depression and anxiety, it makes sense to believe that they will feel encouraged, at least, to mimic the symptoms.
Anyway, MarketWatch writes:
This generation is not necessarily more depressed than workers of past generations, but more equipped to recognize it, Riba said. Mental health is increasingly being taught in high school and most universities now have mental health centers, decreasing the stigma of treatment. “We are seeing a whole new generation who is coming up having been more exposed to these issues than in their parents’ generation and want to figure out how they can stay healthy,” she said.