January 04, 2022
The youngest millennials were born in 1996, which makes them at least 26 years old today. This has implications that go far beyond which social platforms and music streaming services are in use now vs. then — millennials are aging, and according to recent reports, are less healthy than the generations that preceded them.
Millennial health may begin to decline as early as age 27, and can be especially concerning for older members of this generation who are in their forties. Much of this health deterioration can be traced to depression, which is particularly prevalent and on the rise for this age group and can lead to many other health challenges. If you’re a millennial, here are a some of the top health concerns to watch out for, and what to do about them.
Depression is much more than just feeling sad. Those with depression often experience irritability, tiredness, anxiety, and physical ailments. Depression is more likely in those who are exhausted and stressed, which is the case for many millennials. There’s no question that the isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of social media have exacerbated these factors.
Depression and substance use disorder are commonly co-occurring conditions — and health data shows that this is particularly true among millennials. According to a recent Blue Cross Blue Shield health report, substance use disorder increased by 10 percent among this age group between 2014 and 2017. General anxiety, workplace stress, or relationship stress can all trigger unhealthy use of substances, which at first seem like an easy way to cope with the barrage of negative information at their fingertips but can quickly slide into something more perilous.
Millennials also face physical health challenges. They are on track to be the most obese generation yet. This puts them at risk for diseases such as hypertension. While it develops slowly, the symptoms of hypertension get worse over time and can include fatigue, chest pain, or heart palpitations. At its most severe, hypertension can contribute to the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke.
The unhealthy diets that lead to hypertension can also result in other issues, such as high cholesterol. Processed foods entered the mainstream in the 1980s, so many millennials have been eating them their entire lives. The fast-paced millennial lifestyle can make it harder to eat at home, and meals out are often higher in fats, which can serve as a precursor to heart disease or stroke.
Combining an unhealthy diet with inactivity is a recipe for type 2 diabetes. Technology has made it easier for this generation to become sedentary, which can increase diabetes risk. This health condition causes the body to not produce enough insulin. Symptoms begin slowly but can cause lasting damage to the eyes, kidneys, and cardiovascular system.
Fortunately, there is some good news! Most of the major health problems millennials face can be prevented by simply maintaining a healthy lifestyle. A good diet, exercise, and reducing stress in your thirties will go a long way to helping you be happy — and healthy — into your sixties!