“It is less clear to me, and probably less well-studied, as to why we have such a high incidence of depression in our Gen Z and millennial or 18- to 35-year-old cohort as compared to prior generations,” Dr. Alex Li, deputy chief medical officer at L.A. Care Health Plan, told Healthline.
“(They) are more likely to be burdened by heavy debt, face an increasing number of existential crises such as global warming, and a host of other factors,” Li said.
The report showed that unhealthy lifestyles contributed to a high prevalence of chronic illnesses in young adults. Those with chronic conditions were more likely to report binge drinking, smoking and inactivity than those without.
“Because chronic conditions become more prevalent with age, a focus on prevention and risk factors is essential for health across the life span,” corresponding author of the report Kathleen B. Watson, Ph.D. wrote. “These findings highlight the importance of increasing the availability of evidence-based strategies tailored to young adults to improve the prevention, treatment and management of chronic conditions.”
Identifying chronic issues in young adults can prompt further research for this age group and raise awareness of the prevalence of chronic illnesses. Some experts have suggested the COVID-19 pandemic may be partly to blame.
“Many have spent the past two years indoors, in front of a computer,” Dr. Louis Morledge, an internist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, told Healthline. “And this age group has experienced the most glaring shift from experiencing social engagement in a variety of educational and professional settings to instead being stationary and alone.”
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