Generational differences in mental health: are children and adolescents suffering more, or less?

Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2011 Oct;81(4):469-72. doi: 10.1111/j.1939-0025.2011.01115.x.


Almost all of the available evidence suggests a sharp rise in anxiety, depression, and mental health issues among Western youth between the early 20th century and the early 1990s. Between the early 1990s and the present, more serious problems such as suicide and depression have receded in some data sets, whereas feeling overwhelmed and reporting psychosomatic complaints have continued to increase. Other indicators, such as anxiety, have remained at historically high levels but not continued to increase. This mixed pattern of results may be rooted in the increasing use of antidepressants and therapy and the improvement in some cultural indicators. However, the incidence of youth mental health problems remains unacceptably high.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Child
  • Cohort Effect
  • Culture
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*