With the recent emphasis on self-care these past few years, it might seem that millennials invest more in their wellness and health compared to their counterparts in previous generations. While this might be true, there is research and evidence that shows how this generation is actually less healthy as they continue to age.
Insurance company federation Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) identified the top diseases millennials should be wary of as follows: depression, alcohol abuse disorder, psychotic conditions, substance use disorder, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, hyperactivity, and tobacco use disorder.
According to BCBSA VP for medical affairs Dr. Vincent Nelson, the illnesses on this list isn’t really surprising. What’s concerning though is the degree of their prevalence in the millennial age group compared to previous generations.
In the same age range of 34 to 36 years old, it was found that millennials were about 11% less healthy than Gen Xers. The former also faces a significant increase in diagnoses for eight of the aforementioned health conditions above. Because of these worrying numbers, Nelson calls people to start addressing the health issue now.
The Issue of Mental Health
Looking closer at the conditions listed by the BCBSA, one may notice how many of them are more behavioral health concerns rather than physical. In fact, the highest increases were for rates in hyperactivity and depression. Experts attribute this phenomenon to various factors.
Deborah Serani, a doctor of psychology, says that millennials were the first generation to not be able to learn things like being aware of the complexity of their emotions and of others because of the technological advances they grew up with.
And in connection with this, they had to tolerate what Serani called media overload thanks to the internet and the rise of the 24-hour news cycle. Constantly seeing news of terrorism and disasters made them feel fearful, helpless and even hopeless, Serani said.
There’s also the relatively new opportunity to work flexible schedules that a lot of older millennials enjoy. The downside of this is that people tend to sacrifice weekends and vacations to work leading to a feeling of always being ‘at work’.
To address and correct these health concerns, Nelson recommends millennials to invest in and seek out preventive care. Doing so would help the get properly diagnosed and receive proper treatment before health conditions get worse.
Meanwhile, practicing self-care is another way for millennials to cope and prevent certain illnesses from developing.
Serani suggests that people make efforts to step away from work, technology, and the media to spend more time on actual physical interactions with people. She also emphasized how self-care should be a long-term commitment.