A new research paper follows four studies that cover 7 million subjects ranging from teen to adult who have sought help for mental health issues.
Jenny Anderson of Quartz writes of psychology professor Jean Twenge's paper, which reports that more teens are struggling to remember things and having issues with sleeping. Mostly, they are morose.
One theory is that kids don't play enough. Peter Gray, a psychologist and professor at Boston College, wrote in Psychology Today, “My hypothesis is that the generational increases in externality, extrinsic goals, anxiety, and depression are all caused largely by the decline, over that same period, in opportunities for free play and the increased time and weight given to schooling.”
Twenge does not agree.
She sees many potential factors contributing to the rise in symptoms and reported feelings of depression: a rise in broken relationships, such as divorce, a shift away from intrinsic to extrinsic goals, which can lead to a sense of not being able to control things, and higher expectations. The percentage of people who expect to get graduate and professional degrees, for example, has surged as have the number of people who aspire to secure a professional job. But the numbers of people getting these degrees and jobs has stayed flat.
“Expectations have risen, but reality has stayed the same,” she told Quartz.