Today’s teens are five times more likely to be depressed than those in the 1930s. Odd since those teens were in the midst of a far more serious economic downturn. From the The Week Magazine:

A recent study of high school and college students, built on data from psychological surveys in use since 1938, has found that anxiety, depression, and other mental-health issues are far more prevalent among youth today than during the Great Depression. A team of researchers analyzed tens of thousands responses to common psychological surveys, which asked students if they felt sad, dissatisfied, worried, isolated, or otherwise mentally troubled. On average, five times as many students in 2007 reported signs of mental illness than did those in 1938. Increases in depression and hypomania—a mixture of anxiety and an unrealistic, manic form of optimism—were particularly acute.

Researchers speculate that modern society’s emphasis on wealth and external appearance places enormous pressure on young adults, who grow up believing that success is being rich, skinny, and “hot.” “We have become a culture that focuses more on material things and less on relationships,” psychologist and lead author Jean Twenge tells Other researchers suggest that overprotective parenting, which keeps kids from developing independence and coping skills, and even a lack of sleep contribute to the pandemic of mental illness. The new study helps to quantify a trend that many mental-health experts and school officials have observed anecdotally. “The next question is: What do we do about it?” Twenge says.

How about we quit teaching our children that it’s important to be rich, skinny and hot?