Youth Struggle: Soaring anxiety and depression rates amidst a digital age

Youth Struggle: Soaring anxiety and depression rates amidst a digital age

Educational institutions should prioritize mental health education. Employers can play a role by fostering a supportive work environment that promotes work-life balance and destigmatizes seeking aid.

Youth Struggle: Soaring anxiety and depression rates amidst a digital age Youth Struggle: Soaring anxiety and depression rates amidst a digital age

The journey through early adulthood can be turbulent, marked by transitions, uncertainties, and societal demands. The emergence of social media has spawned a web of comparison, where manicured lifestyles and filtered experiences frequently trigger feelings of inadequacy and solitude. The urge to present an idealized version of oneself has cultivated an atmosphere where authenticity takes a back seat, perpetuating sentiments of detachment and unease.

In recent times, an unspoken crisis has been sweeping across the lives of young individuals, casting a pall over their aspirations and ambitions. The escalation of depression and anxiety among this demographic has prompted many to question the factors contributing to this alarming trend.

According to data released by WHO, shows that 9.3 percent of youth (18 – 24 years) in India suffered from depression and anxiety in May 2020, especially after the pandemic; which increased to 16.8 percent by March 2022. The year 2023 witnesses a concerning surge in cases of depression and anxiety among young adults in India. Startling statistics reveal that approximately a quarter of young adults aged 18-25 are grappling with symptoms of depression, indicating a significant escalation compared to previous years. Additionally, nearly 30 percent of this demographic are contending with anxiety disorders, highlighting a distressing upswing in mental health struggles.

Academic pursuits have now become wellsprings of intense pressure. The growing expectations to excel academically, combined with apprehensions about an unpredictable job market, have turned classrooms into high-pressure environments, intensifying stress levels. The pursuit of flawlessness allows little room for self-kindness, often paving the way for depressive ideations to take hold. Furthermore, the changing landscape of relationships in the digital era has transformed the dynamics of social interaction by lacking to replicate the depth and intimacy of in-person relationships. Loneliness, a prevalent precursor to depression and anxiety, flourishes in this context. Compounding the issue is the lack of sufficient mental health resources and the stigma that surrounds seeking assistance.

Seeking assistance is a pivotal step in combating these challenges. However, obstacles such as stigma and inadequate access to mental health resources deter many from seeking the assistance they urgently require. A culture that values self-reliance often discourages open conversations about mental health, perpetuating a cycle of suffering in silence.

To tackle this growing crisis, a multifaceted approach is imperative. Educational institutions should prioritize mental health education. Employers can play a role by fostering a supportive work environment that promotes work-life balance and destigmatizes seeking aid. It is of utmost importance to destigmatize mental health concerns through open dialogue.

Anandita Chakravartty, a Child Rehabilitation Psychologist (M. Phil in Rehabilitation Psychology, National Institute of Empowerment of Persons with Intellectual Disability, under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India; Secunderabad, Telangana), talks with India Today NE and walks us through the various stigmas around mental health and the factors behind the rise of depression and anxiety among young adults in Northeast India and the country at large.

What are the contributing factors of depression and anxiety among young adults?

The contributing factors which likely yield to depression and anxiety among young adults can be varied. The major factors include - parental pressure, career instability, relationship issues, impulsivity, self-blame, and so on. Some young adults are at greater risk of deteriorating mental health due to their living conditions, stigma, discrimination, and lack of access to support and care. Yet these remain largely unrecognized and untreated.

What is the relationship between food intake and depression?

Food intake and depression have proved to show a negligible correlation. However, food intake is usually affected when a person is affected by a depressive episode. There are variable diagnostic markers in depressive disorders: some individuals manifest increased food intake while some experience more appetite.

How does the hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs, affect the mental health of young adults?

Psychoactive substances create alterations in thinking processes and affect the behavior of the person. Hence, intake of such drugs leads to debilitating consequences. Youth must ensure that they remain away from the consumption and abuse of these substances.

How does social media consumption induce stress and anxiety?

Social media usage has both resulted in betterment as well as deterioration of mental health amongst the youth. It depends on how a youth manages to create a balance between the consumption of screen time and spending quality time with his/her friends and family.

Why does the youth struggle with frustration and lower attention span and how is it related to the lifestyle?

The young adulthood phase has been known to invite pleasant, coupled with unpleasant experiences. The stress due to job insecurity, relationship failures, lack of ample skill-based opportunities, and so on have cumulatively led to unhealthy lifestyle practices among the youths. These eventually create sequential failures in attaining short-term goals in the lives of individuals.

How can one push oneself and seek help in times of mental dilemma and conflict?

Irrespective of the type of context in which an adolescent faces challenges, hardships, or demotivation, he or she should immediately seek the help of a mental health professional within his or her reach. Also, necessarily, a youth should update himself or herself with information regarding the alarming signs as they do for their physical health ailments. Dilemma and conflict are inevitable in the context of today's world of rat races but in spite of these, the youth should not lose hope and faith in his own capabilities.

Are there any exercises that can help to reduce anxiety and depression?

Pranayam or deep breathing exercises, mastered from a yoga expert along with progressive muscle relaxation techniques, mindfulness training, practiced under a trained mental health therapist, can provide great feedback at times of anxiety and depression.

In conclusion, to tackle the surging levels of depression and anxiety in young adults, it is crucial to cultivate empathy, enhance the availability of mental health resources, and encourage open dialogues. By recognizing societal pressures, nurturing open discussions, and advocating for accessible mental health resources, we can collaboratively strive toward a more promising and resilient future for the present and upcoming generation of young adults. These measures are essential for fostering a more robust and emotionally resilient generation. Hence, creating a safe space for everyone and constructing the world into a better place to live in.

Edited By: Puja Mahanta
Published On: Aug 28, 2023