Published on: December 31, 2017
by Women’s Brain Health Initiative:
Studies continue to demonstrate that depression is a risk factor for many other conditions, including heart disease and dementia. Millennials, in particular, are reporting higher rates of depression than any other generation. In fact, nearly 40% of millennials report that their stress is increasing, according to a recent article in WebPsychology.
With millennials now comprising the largest sector of the workforce, these statistics are creating new challenges in work culture and mental health treatment. As the article notes, “one in five young workers has experienced on-the-job depression, compared to only 16 percent of Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers.”
Some of the Reasons why Millennials Have Higher Depression Rates:
Some of the Impacts of Mental Health on Millennial Jobs and Job Performance:
All of the above-noted factors are intensified by the pressure to counter the common perception that this demographic is self-entitled, narcissistic, less motivated, and even lazy compared to other generations.
Compared to men, women are twice as likely to develop depression. The reasons for this gender difference are not entirely clear, but are thought to be partly biological (women may have a stronger genetic predisposition to developing depression and are much more subjected to fluctuating hormone levels), partly psychological (women tend to be more involved in personal relationships than men and suffer more when they are disrupted), and partly sociocultural (women experience additional stress in their demanding roles as wives, mothers, and possibly caregivers).
While working to prove themselves in their homes, their careers, and amongst their peers, some women millennials may inadvertently find themselves functioning at a level that adversely impacts their health. In a 2016 article in NewsMaxHealth, Allard E. Dembe, a professor of Public Health at the Ohio State University’s College of Public Health, noted that “career women have steep demands on their time, but expanding their work hours beyond the traditional 40 a week can have a devastating impact on their health.
A study from Ohio State University found that women who work 60 hours a week for the bulk of their careers triple their risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. The risk begins to mount when women work more than 40 hours a week for 30 years, and escalates when they work more than 50 hours a week.” Dembe, the lead author of the study, continues, “people don’t think that much about how their early work experiences affect them down the road … women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s are setting themselves up for problems later in life.”
Dr. Leonaura Rhodes, a Health and Happiness Coach and Corporate Wellbeing Consultant, reports that in 2008, serious mental illness was estimated to cost the U.S. economy $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year. She also notes by 2020, depression will be second only to heart disease in the causes of worldwide disability.
Clearly, it is imperative that we take control of our cognitive destiny and explore our options for treating, supporting, and improving our mental health – and preferably when we are younger, rather than in our later years, said Dr. Johanna Jarcho in an interview with Women’s Brain Health Initiative (WBHI). Dr. Jarcho is a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Mental Health who studies the differences in brain development of healthy individuals compared with those who experience mental health problems, with a focus on anxiety.
“The vast majority of mental health disorders do emerge during one’s adolescence or early 20s. If you’re going to have an anxiety disorder as an adult, there’s a 90% chance that you’ll have had it as an adolescent. Basically, you’re not going to develop an anxiety disorder as an adult. You’re going to develop it as a kid and then it’ll carry through to adulthood. Emerging research suggests that this is because adolescence is a time when the brain is changing to a great degree. We once thought that the brain didn’t change that much after earlier childhood, but what we’ve seen is that the brain continues to undergo really profound changes up until your early 20s. It’s still quite malleable, so being exposed to different influences in your social environment can really have a profound impact on the way that your brain continues to develop.”
Dr. Jarcho told WBHI that the most important thing that you can do to mitigate the effects that any kind of psychopathology may have is to seek treatment earlier and when you are younger. “It’s like how habits are formed,” she explained, “they get strengthened over time and once they’re established they become biological, in a way. It’s much more difficult to break them and they stick around for a long time. If you think there’s something that may be wrong, you should try to get help before things become a crisis, before you feel like it’s having profound effects on your life.”
Dr. Jarcho’s message is encouraging and suggests that mental health can be improved in the early stages before it becomes disabling.
Seven Steps to Better Mental Health
Dr. Leonaura Rhodes highlights seven key steps to improving, optimizing, and stabilizing our mental health.
The quality of your mental health is essential to the quality of your life. Do not wait until depression, anxiety, or dementia strike. Take control of your brain with some positive action today.
Source: MIND OVER MATTER – V5
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