Increase in mental illness in adolescents

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According to a study in the USA, more and more school and university students suffer from mental illness

According to a US study, more and more adolescents and young adults suffer from mental illness. For comparison: Statistically speaking, there are five times more young people in the United States today than they did 70 years ago. Most teenagers developed depression. The main reason given for the rapid increase is the increased expectations of "material wealth" and supposed "beauty". The growing adults feel more and more stressed, suffer from anxiety states and experience increasing pressure to succeed, to which they are subject.

The results of the survey are based on psychological test procedures of the "Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory" (MMPI). This type of survey is the most widely used around the world. The MMPI survey was developed in the USA at the end of the 1930s. Prof. Jean Twenge from San Diego State University was in charge of the analysis of the survey.

A total of 77,576 pupils and students from the years 1938 to 2007 were surveyed. The scientists evaluated the MMPI surveys at 5 universities. In 1938, five times fewer pupils and students suffered from depression than in 2007. In addition, an increase in hypomania (mild form of mania) from 5 to 31 percent could be ascertained.

The researchers even assume that the number of unreported cases will be even higher because young people are already taking numerous medications that help against depression, for example, and raise the general mood. Another factor is that more adolescents now report depression than they did in the late 30s.

Scientist Prof. Jean Twenge sees a change in social values ​​as the reason. Prosperity, beauty ideals and status symbols would play a bigger role today than they did 70 years ago. Young people are subject to constant competitive pressure that they have to cope with every day. In addition, many parents would be brought up to be "overprotective". The children would no longer learn to face certain everyday problems. (sb, January 17, 2010)

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Video: Teens and mental health: Mayo Clinic Radio

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