There are millions of people across the world who are millennials. Millennial is a term used to refer to people who are born between 1981 and 1996 and who were in the age bracket of 21 to 36 years old in 2017. New research carried out by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) has now suggested that millennials are getting significantly less healthy as they get older. In fact, the study found that millennials are profoundly affected by behavioral health conditions rather than physical conditions, with the most significant increases being found in hyperactivity and major depression. So even though millennials are making a bigger investment in their health and wellness as compared to the earlier generations, millennials are still dramatically less healthy as they are aging. Let us take a look at the top medical conditions plaguing millennials.
Research Suggests Millennials Are Less Healthy Than Earlier Generations
New research released by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) (1) has found that millennials are getting significantly less healthy as they age. It found that millennials between the ages of 34 to 36 years in 2017 were 11 percent less healthy than the previous generation (termed as Gen Xers) also between the ages of 34 to 36 years of age in 2014.
The research found that the millennials have experienced a double digit increase in health diagnoses for eight of the top ten medical conditions. The study found that millennials are drastically affected by behavioral health conditions such as hyperactivity and major depression rather than physical health conditions.
Top 10 Medical Conditions Plaguing Millennials
The top ten health conditions that affect millennials, as ranked by the negative health impact they have, include:
- Major depression
- Substance abuse disorder
- Alcohol abuse disorder
- Hypertension or high blood pressure
- Psychotic conditions
- Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
- High cholesterol
- Tobacco abuse disorder
- Type 2 diabetes
Even though these top ten health conditions are not surprising since they are prevalent in almost all generations, but what is surprising is the high prevalence rates for each of these health conditions in millennials as compared to the previous generations.
About 83 percent of the 55 million millennials who were surveyed by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association in 2017, considered themselves to be in good or even excellent health. However, the analysis of the associations revealed the exact opposite.
Significant health challenges have been increasing amongst millennials at an earlier age than in earlier generations.
Why are Millennials Affected The Most By Mental Health Conditions?
The survey found that millennials are significantly affected by behavioral health conditions, especially hyperactivity and major depression.
Substance abuse disorder, major depression, and alcohol abuse disorder are the top three health conditions that affect millennials.
The following circumstances that be considered as contributing factors behind why millennials are mostly affected by mental health conditions:
Too Much Exposure To Media
The media explosion from various sources and access to a 24-hour news cycle has allowed millennials to have access to fearful news round the clock. Stories of natural disasters, catastrophes, and terrorism activities were nearly non-existent for many of the previous generations, but are not available round the clock. Feeling of hopelessness, helplessness, and fear regarding the events happening in the world end up affecting millennials either by themselves witnessing such events themselves or through the contagious fear reactions from others in their social circle.
Due to the rapid technological advances, millennials have become the first generation to grow up without learning how to become adept at reading facial cues, maintain eye contact, or even have a deeper awareness of various emotions within others or themselves.
There is actually a medical term coined to refer to this lack of emotional awareness. It is clinically known as alexithymia.(2) (3)
The condition of alexithymia makes it challenging for millennials to understand not just their own feelings and thoughts, but others’ thoughts and feelings as well.
Replacement of the Concept Of Winning And Losing
With the advent of the millennial generation, one can steadily see that the concept of how to win or lose has been gradually replaced by the safety of ‘everyone gets a trophy’ and ‘everyone is a winner.’ There is no loss involved for anybody, and this has disrupted the natural learning curve of dealing with failure and disappointment in life.
At the same time, this prevents millennials from building resiliency towards disappointment and learning how to move on after failure.
As a result of this, many millennials today face difficulty tolerating any type of stressful event in their life – they frustrate easily and also avoid any demands that make them feel overwhelmed.
Undefined Work Routines
Most millennials do not have careers that have set schedules and that allow for remote access. The downside to this is that they often find themselves working during the weekends and even during vacations. This results in never having any ‘away time’ to recharge and refuel. All this increases their stress levels, while also increasing the physical and emotional risk factors for their health.
More and more parents are working today in order to meet the financial demands and challenges. The millennial generation is experiencing a significant change in a dual-income family, which the generations before them did not face.
They do not have the ease that earlier generations had, such as family dinner time and set working hours and free weekends. This has created a lonelier world for the millennial generations, pushing them into a world of avoidance and isolation even more than before.
Since millennials these days have so many different stressors, they are automatically more inclined towards being isolated and are exposed to a huge range of addictive devices. All these factors are obviously going to take their toll on their health.
Conclusion: How Can Millennials Change The Situation?
According to experts, the best thing that millennials can do for their overall health is to have good preventive care so that they are able to receive a proper diagnosis and begin treatment well within time before the condition becomes life-threatening or unmanageable.
However, again, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association survey found that nearly one-third of millennials do not have any form of primary care provider, and neither do most of them receive regular preventive care. Additionally, the survey found that most millennials only visit their doctor when they are sick.
So by not seeking preventative care, millennials are not only putting their immediate health at risk but also their long-term health.
The best way forward for millennials would be to find and regularly consult a primary health care provider. The fact is that there is no knowing when one needs medical care, and many conditions can be treated more effectively if they are caught early and treatment is started in time.
- Bcbs.com. (2020). The Health of Millennials | Blue Cross Blue Shield. [online] Available at: https://www.bcbs.com/the-health-of-america/reports/the-health-of-millennials [Accessed 11 Jan. 2020].
- Badr, E. and Chakraborty, J., Internet Addiction: A Study of its Relevant Correlates–Narcissism, Alexithymia and General Health.
- Carosa, C.L., 2017. Alexithymia in College-Aged Students (Doctoral dissertation).