Teenagers Now Have More Mental Health Problems Than Ever

This generation is under increasing psychological pressure.

This generation is under increasing psychological pressure.

Mental health problems are on the rise among teenagers, research finds.

Depression has risen by around two-thirds in teenagers, in comparison to the previous generation.

Teenagers are now also more likely to self-harm, be overweight, sleep deprived and to suffer body image problems.

However, modern teenagers are less likely to perpetrate antisocial behaviour or drink and take drugs.

Dr Suzanne Gage, study co-author, said:

“It has seemed for a while that mental health difficulties in young people are on the rise, but this study really highlights the scale at which this increase might be occurring.

The next step is to understand why these increases are occurring, so young people can be supported better.”

The conclusions come from data culled from two British studies.

One followed 5,600 children born in 1991-92, the second followed 11,000 born in 2000-01.

The results showed that modern teenagers are in worse psychological shape than those born ten years before.

Almost 15 percent of teenagers reported being depressed in 2015, compared with 9 percent in 2005.

Self-harm had increased from 12 percent to 14 percent.

Along with depressive symptoms rising by two-thirds, obesity had almost doubled in the ten years.

Dr Praveetha Patalay, the study’s first author, said:

“The increasing trends of poor sleep, obesity and negative body image might help explain rising mental health difficulties experienced by young people.

Where the trends are moving in opposite directions – decreasing substance use and antisocial behaviour – the interpretation becomes more complicated.

Identifying explanations for these high prevalences and changing trends are key for preventing further poor physical and mental health for future generations of young people.”

→ Read on: 3 signs of depression in young people.

The study was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology (Patalay & Gage, 2019).


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It’s mostly written by psychologist and author, Dr Jeremy Dean.

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Author: Jeremy Dean

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology. He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book "Making Habits, Breaking Habits" (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks.