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According to data gathered by San Diego State University professor Jean Twenge from 6.9 million adolescents and adults, Americans are now more depressed than they’d previously been in decades. Twenge discovered that Americans now report more psychosomatic symptoms of depression, such as trouble with sleeping or concentrating, than people did back in the 1980s. Previously, studies found that more people have been treated for depression in recent years, although it wasn’t clear if this was due to a rise in depression or just increased awareness and less stigma. However, Twenge claims that this study shows an increase in symptoms that most people don’t even know are connected with depression, suggesting that adolescents and adults are actually suffering a lot more.
In comparison to people from the 1980s, teens in the 2010 are 38 percent more likely to have trouble remembering, 74 percent more likely to have trouble sleeping and twice as likely to have seen a professional for issues with mental health. College students in the survey were 50 percent more likely to say that they felt overwhelmed, and adults were more likely to say that their sleep was restless, they had little appetite and everything was an effort. These are all typical psychosomatic symptoms of depression. In spite of all these symptoms, people are no more likely to say that they’re depressed when asked the question directly. Twenge says this suggests that this rise in depression isn’t based on people being more willing to admit depression.
This study also found that the suicide rates among teens have decreased, even though this decline was at best insignificant when compared to the increase in symptoms of depression. Due to the use of anti-depressant medications doubling over this time period, Twenge believes that while medication has helped those with the most severe depression problems, it hasn’t reduced the increases in other symptoms that can still cause significant issues.