For antiquity, through cultures, adolescence and the young adult age (19 to 25 years) are identified as a period where individuals go through the noteworthy body and behavioral changes. Although a majority of teenagers and young adults successfully go through this transition due to the aid of their caregivers both at school and at home over the last few years the trend has taken a noteworthy shift. According to Kessler and Ellen, studies in mood disorders show that at the adolescent stage, teenagers are susceptible to psychiatric illnesses, including anxiety and mood disorders, psychosis, eating disorders, personality disorders, and substance abuse (12). The recent study by Anda Gershon and Renee Thompson of the University of Stanford University, Washington University in St. Louis highlighted two major changes in trends affecting age‐of‐onset (AOO) for major depressive disorders (MDD). Firstly, the scholars indicated that over recent past the AOO for major depressive disorders has decreased from the mid-20s as it has traditionally been published. Additionally, currently, women or girls are more susceptible to developing MDD as compared to their male counterparts. In a society dependent on sustainable social behavior, this alarming state requires in-depth discussions of the reasons why younger individuals in particular women are more susceptible to MDD.
Over the years, researchers have used the age‐of‐onset philosophy for two primary factors which are to distinguish between lifetime prevalence and projected lifetime risk. In the case of major depressive disorder (MDD), the age-of-onset has been set at the mid-20s after studies conducted in the 1980s identified this phenomenon. Nevertheless, this has not been the case due to three primary reasons.
One of the primary reasons as to why the AOO has decreased is due to improved psychological studies among children, adolescents, and young adults. During the mid-1980s, mental health experts began to identify symptoms of mood disorders in children, adolescents, as well as young adults. Nevertheless, as indicated by Ripke et al., at the time it became apparent that both children and adolescents did not necessarily exhibit similar symptoms as adults (9). This made it difficult to diagnose MDD in children. Currently, as the field of psychology has continued to improve these symptoms have become easier to identify; additionally, with the changing social environments such as the influx use of social media and the internet, the AOO has gone done from mid-25 to the early 20s.
Another reason for the decreased AOO as highlighted above is the changes in the environment. One social aspect about the 21st century is the influence of technology particularly the internet and social media on the younger generation (Keyes, 15). It is known that teenagers and young adults are avid users of the internet and social media; subsequently, a number of them have developed psychological dependencies on such technologies thus leading to increased mood disorders. Currently, the average age of a child owning a device such as a smartphone or a computer is 12 years old. At such a young age, it is easy for a child to developed self-esteem, depression, as well as anxiety issues from the virtual community (Keyes, 22). Additionally, this risk is augmented when it comes to girls. As stated by Ripke et al., women are three times more likely to develop MDD this is primarily because they spend more time in behavioral domains such as health and hygiene, spiritual activities, as well as the notion that today women reach sexual maturity faster than the males (113). In a society of general approval as opposed to self-worth, it is likely that a girl may develop MDD faster than their male counterparts may.
In summation, over the last two decades, it has become evident that the age‐of‐onset (AOO) has been dropping from the mid-20s a factor that is of significant concern. The manuscript presented to give a clear account as to why this is the current case. Firstly, unlike before psychology researchers have found it easier to identify major depressive disorder at earlier stages in a child’s life. Additionally, the changes in the environment have been a significant factor in shaping the minds of young adults as well as adolescence. Several types of research have made it clear that currently, individuals below the age of 22 are more susceptible to developing major depressive disorder due to social media and the internet. From the above information, there is a clear indication of why the might the age of onset for MDD be decreasing over time.
Anda Gershon and Renee Thompson. Major Depressive Disorders. NOBA online journal HTML retrieved from https://nobaproject.com/textbooks/discover-psychology-v2-a-brief-introductory-text/modules/mood-disorders
Kessler, Ronald C., and Ellen E. Walters. “Epidemiology of DSM‐III‐R major depression and minor depression among adolescents and young adults in the national comorbidity survey.” Depression and anxiety 7.1 (1998): 3-14.
Keyes, Corey LM. “Complete mental health: An agenda for the 21st century.” (2013).
Ripke, Stephan, Naomi R. Wray, Cathryn M. Lewis, Steven P. Hamilton, Myrna M. Weissman, Gerome Breen, Enda M. Byrne et al. “A mega-analysis of genome-wide association studies for major depressive disorder.” Molecular psychiatry18, no. 4 (2013): 497.