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Depression and self harm on the rise among millennials

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 28/02/2019 Sarah Knapton
Finance & Business.Office,technology,internet, business,Exhausted businessman falling asleep at his office desk,entrepreneur, trader, tycoon, operator,Frustrated stressed in office,vintage color, © Getty Finance & Business.Office,technology,internet, business,Exhausted businessman falling asleep at his office desk,entrepreneur, trader, tycoon, operator,Frustrated stressed in office,vintage color,

Young people today are far more likely to be depressed and to self-harm than they were 10 years ago, a new study suggests, as they struggle with body image and social media.

Researchers from University College London (UCL) and the University of Liverpool analysed data from two cohorts of 14-year-old millennials born a decade apart.

Fewer than one in 10 (9 per cent) of those born in the early 90s suffered from depression during their teens, but that rose to more one in seven for youngsters born at the turn of the century (15 per cent).

Video: Could smartphones spot teen depression? (USA TODAY)

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The children of the new century also tended to sleep fewer hours on week nights, were more likely to be obese and had poorer body image, compared to the children of the 1990s.

Rates of self-harm had also risen from 12 per cent to 14 per cent over the same period.

Worsening mental health in youngsters has coincided with the rise of social media as teenagers struggle to achieve the sort of perfection shown in photoshopped images on Instagram or Snapchat filters.

There are also worries that smartphones and iPhones in bedrooms are driving an increase in poor sleep.

A man sitting down, his face unsettled. At the computer desk He has headaches and stress. Cause of hard work and insufficient rest. © Getty A man sitting down, his face unsettled. At the computer desk He has headaches and stress. Cause of hard work and insufficient rest. Dr Praveetha Patalay, co-author of the study, said: “The increasing trends of poor sleep, obesity and negative body image might help explain rising mental health difficulties experienced by young people.

“Striking increases in mental health difficulties, BMI and poor sleep related behaviours highlight an increasing public health challenge.

“Identifying explanations for these high prevalences and changing trends are key for preventing further poor physical and mental health for future generations of young people.”

However, the researchers found that antisocial behaviour and substance use, which have been recognised as predicting poor adolescent mental health in previous studies, had decreased over 10 years.

sadness young asian wife crying and looking at her ring sitting on sofa after fight with husband behind her in house interior together, love, divorce couple, family issues and relationship concept © Getty sadness young asian wife crying and looking at her ring sitting on sofa after fight with husband behind her in house interior together, love, divorce couple, family issues and relationship concept Rates of 14-year-olds punching or kicking someone on purpose had dropped from 40 per cent to 28 per cent, and teenagers committing acts of vandalism had decreased from 6 per cent to 2 per cent over a decade.

More than 52 per cent of the those born in the early 1990s had tried alcohol by age 14, compared to less than 44 per cent of those born a decade later. Seven per cent of the 1990s children had smoked cigarettes occasionally in adolescence, compared to just 1 per cent of the millennium group.

They were, on average, going to sleep later and waking up earlier. Almost 12 per cent of those born at the turn of the millennium were sleeping less than the recommended eight hours a night, compared to six per cent of those born 10 years earlier.

Rates of obesity among young people had almost doubled over a decade from less than 4 per cent to more than 7 per cent.

father tired of doing homework with son, difficult learning, child stress, overload © Getty father tired of doing homework with son, difficult learning, child stress, overload Thirty-three per cent of the group born at the turn of the century perceived themselves as overweight compared to 27 per cent of those born in the early 1990s.

Dr Suzanne Gage, co-author, added: “It has seemed for a while that mental health difficulties in young people are on the rise, but this study really highlights the scale at which this increase might be occurring.

“The next step is to understand why these increases are occurring, so young people can be supported better.”

The research was published in the Journal of Epidemiology.

Gallery: 7 Common Mental Health Issues Among Seniors (Cheapism)

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The Samaritans offer support and advice to people feeling suicidal or vulnerable 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Their website is http://www.samaritans.org, email address jo@samaritans.org or call free on 116 123. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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