Some negative perceptions about today’s young adults, known as millennials—those born between 1981 and 1996—are as follows: They’re entitled, shiftless, selfish, hypersensitive to criticism, and unable to deal with real-life challenges. They’re also described as being diversified, honest with their emotions, deeply empathetic, and eager to make significant changes in the environment they’ve evolved into. Although hardly one can agree on much when it comes to the millennial age, one thing is certain: they’re stressed. They are depressed up to 17% of the time and anxious 14% of the time. Millennials seek psychotherapy at a higher rate than Generation X or previous generations.
They might require it as well. One of the most common sources of concern for millennials is money. Many are having difficulty finding work, are still living with their parents, or are concerned about earning enough money to begin their own lives. Young people today suffer more financial hardships than prior generations of Americans. Almost a third of millennials believe they are in worse shape than they expected ten years ago. They, too, are struggling to save money due to the 2008 crisis, mounting student-loan debts, and soaring living costs.
However, millennials‘ financial difficulties are only part of the tale. More importantly, these concerns show how worried people are about what’s to come—about making the right decisions to ensure a secure future. Decision-making may be the primary reason for millennials’ depression and anxiety and their need for psychotherapy. I’ve previously written that many of my millennial customers are confronting major decisions for the first time that will have long-term ramifications and are unsure how to proceed. However, there are various aspects of decision-related anxiety: Some young adults may feel as though they have too many options and that choosing which ones to pursue is difficult. Others suffer from “analysis paralysis,” in which they cannot perceive why one alternative is better than another and cannot make a decision at all.
A young individual, for example, at the age of 25, is expected to face most of life’s major decisions in the next 10 to 15 years. People in this situation metaphorically see their lives as a series of chambers, each with its own set of doors. Every time they decide, they walk through one door only to discover that all the others have shut. Then, as they perceive it, they find themselves in a smaller room with fewer doors than the previous one. When they walk through one of these doors, it will also close. Each chosen door leads to a smaller room until the people making decisions imagine themselves in a long corridor stretching out ahead of them to the edge of vision, with no doors (and no choices). When you consider the millennials’ realistic financial concerns, such as becoming less successful than their parents or being unable to support themselves at their current standard of living, this model becomes even direr.