Anxiety, Depression or FOMO?: Generation Z and the Mental Illness.

Photo by Dmitry Dreyer on Unsplash

Could the reason for high rates of anxiety and depression in our youth be attributed to FOMO, or is there something else going on?

If you’ve spent any time around someone from generation “Z”, and especially groups of this particular species, you will inevitably hear one of them talk about depression or anxiety. Either this is in reference to themself or someone that they know. Because anxiety and depression are as common to generation “Z” as wildfires are to summer.

One great example is my friend and her son. My friend, a very successful business woman, grew up in a 3rd world country. She recounts walking 2 km for water every morning. It was her job. There was no option. Her contribution to the family. If she did not do her job, her family would be thirsty for the day.

Fast forward to her current home in a beautiful, seaside city where her older teenaged son lies in his room, day after day, refusing to go to school. If she tries to force him, he says, “I’m depressed. I can’t leave my room.”

WT*?! Is kinda her response.

She was confiding in me. “I don’t know what to do anymore! When I was young, I could never say, ‘Oh, I feel depressed today so I am not leaving my room’! If I did that, I would be cast out of my family. Not to mention that my family would become very thirsty. That was on me!”

She continued to share that if she pushed harder, her son would claim that he was suicidal. So, that was that. No more pushing. 

So what is it with this generation and their high numbers of anxiety and depression?

Liz Swan seems to have an answer. In her blog post, “Generation Z’s Worst Nightmare: A Real Reason to Panic” she claims that the high rates of anxiety and depression among generation Z is connected to the fact that they don’t have any real, for lack of a better description, problems. 

There is no war, no famine, no market crash. Until now. She shares that COVID-19 is the opportunity for generation ‘Z’ to now have a real reason to feel anxious or depressed. Before, it was just a trendy thing. 

After quizzing a number of her college-aged students, she concluded that there is an element of hoping-on-the-band-wagon that attributes to the high rates of mental health issues in the younger generation.

Could it be that simple? Probably not. Perhaps more coincidental.

What are your thoughts? Why do so many kids and young adult have anxiety and depression?

Here are the thoughts I have on the subject.

Increased Awareness

Is there more anxiety and depression amongst our youth because we are more aware now, like an evolution of self is going on?

My mom commented recently that James Bond movies are very sexual. My father has devoured the James Bond franchise at nauseam over the course of my lifetime. “Why did I not notice this until now?” is my mother’s reflection.

Is it because sex and sexuality are more front and centre these days? 

Mental health has received its fair share of attention in the past few years. Could the same be true for mental health. That as we become more aware, generation Z has become more attuned to what is going on inside of them. The problem, then, is that the generations before don’t know what to do about this, because they were more, say, closed off?

Change is coming. I hear it everywhere I go. Wim Hoff recently said that the change is going to be love. I am not sure that is entirely true, but there seems to be a change where we, as a species, are just that much more attuned to the emotional parts of us.  

That is what I think. And this generation is going to be part of that change. The challenges they face with all this anxiety and depression will soon be understood as a gift, a passageway, instead of a pathology, a sickness. 
There is a power that comes in being with your own emotion, and not being afraid of it, not running from it, but moving through it. The result of this, as experienced with many of my clients, is strength, confidence, clarity and peace. Essentially, becoming emotionally grounded.

Swan, Liz. “Generation Z’s Worst Nightmare: A Real Reason to Panic.”

Wim Hoff. Wim Hof Talks CORONAVIRUS & How To Never Get Sick Again Lews Howes.