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Teens See Depression and Anxiety as the Biggest Problem Among Their Peers

A new study from the Pew Research Center shows 70 percent of teens see depression and anxiety as a major problem among their peers. This issue was the largest concern among the teens aged 13 to 17 surveyed for this study, with the next-highest concerns being bullying, drug addiction, and drinking alcohol. Interestingly, anxiety and depression were seen as the highest concern for teens across income boundaries.

Teen anxiety and depression have been on the rise for at least the past decade. A study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics found significant increases in suicidal ideation and suicide attempts among adolescents between 2008 and 2015, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists suicide as the second-highest cause of death among people aged 10 to 24.

Some psychologists have theorized that increased social media use, overwhelming academic pressure, and gun violence in schools have contributed to the rise in teen anxiety, depression, and suicide. Some research has even found links between the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why and teen suicide attempts.

The Pew data supports the idea that academic pressure is contributing to mental-health issues, since 61 percent of teens said they feel highly pressured to get good grades—32 percent higher than the second-highest source of pressure, which, according to the study, is to "look good." The survey did not include any explicit questions about the causes of anxiety and depression.

While the scientific community has acknowledged a rise in teen depression and anxiety for years, the Pew data is significant because it shows teens themselves are recognizing mental-health issues as a major problem within their communities.