World Mental Health Day
Mental Health

Why we’re living in the age of anxiety

Download this week’s Stylist to read this feature in full.  

Millennials have repeatedly been labelled the most anxious generation alive – but what is it about the cocktail of modern life that’s shredding our nerves? Ahead of World Mental Health Day on 10 October, Amelia Tait investigates.

Christmas was coming and the nurse was getting annoyed. It was 2016, I was 24, and my GP had referred me to the local hospital for an ECG to check my heart. I had been struggling to breathe and feeling tightness in my chest since getting a new (terrible) boss at work, but I hadn’t made that connection yet.

All I knew was that it hurt, and it was scary, and as the nurse stuck the sensors to my skin, I could tell she thought I was wasting her time. I was young, after all. “I don’t know if it’s anxiety or if I’m dying,” I wrote in my diary that December. I’m still alive, so I’ll leave you to figure it out.

My anxiety was not an anomaly: statistically and anecdotally, millennials have repeatedly been labelled the most anxious generation alive. In 2018, the American Psychiatric Association found that while anxiety was increasing among baby boomers, millennials remained the most anxious generation overall.

Meanwhile, in the UK, a 2020 UCL study found that there was a “substantial increase” in generalised anxiety diagnoses in 18-24-year-olds between 2014 and 2018. But why? 

To continue reading this feature, purchase this week’s digital magazine for 99p or subscribe from just 40p per issue.

Already a digital subscriber? Log in to read now.