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Why More Millennials are Experiencing Depression at Work

Updated on February 8, 2018
Armela Escalona profile image

Armela is a freelance writer and blogger. Follower her on Twitter@ArmelaE or visit her website to connect.


Remember when Millennials were branded as entitled, lazy, and unfaithful to their employers? Now, there seems to be another issue ailing this young workforce. According to a recent study on the impact of work depression on different generations, Millennials are more anxious and at risk of mental illness more than other generations before them.

Work depression is not rare among many modern workers today. Tight deadlines, stressful work environment, and unhealthy work politics can easily make one unhappy. Despite this, most choose to stay at their crappy jobs because they need money to afford necessities. However, depression isn’t something to be ignored. Depression is more than just loneliness or your occasional feeling of emptiness. According to the American Psychological Association, “Major depression is a serious psychiatric disorder that affects both work and life functioning. Unlike anxiety, a crucial issue with depression is the reality of suicidal ideation. As such, depression must be recognized as a risk to the workforce”

If not taken early action workplace depression can have devastating effects not only on the employee but the company as well. In this article I’m going to help you understand just why more and more millennials are feeling depressed about their jobs and what can we do about it.

Why Millennials are Depressed?

First, let’s find out the top culprits for Millennials anxiety and depression.

l Great Recession - In the years 2007 - 2012, a global economic decline resulted in inflation, bankruptcies, and unemployment rates all over the world. This was the time when millennials were just graduating college and looking for their first jobs. With an average of 300% more student debt than their parents, most millennials struggle financially. If before it was easy to own a home when you were in your early 20s, today a staggering percent of millennials are living in cheap shared apartments, rented rooms, or worse with their parents.

l Perfectionist Mindset - According to a recent study, Millennials are far more likely to get depressed because of the amount of pressure they put on themselves to be perfect. Perfectionism is learned right since preschool when the best students had perfect scores. This enforced the thinking that those who were smarter will fare better in life. As generations pass, the struggle for perfection seemed to aggravate more. At work, a perfectionist is conditioned to crave the best results, he seeks competition with his colleagues, he strives to reach his impossible standards all while increasing his anxiety and depression.

Insecurity and Social Media - Another influential factor that could be causing Millennials work depression is social media. According to Jimmy Rohampton, social media makes Millennials an insecure bunch “When you see people living the life you want to live, it’s hard to not feel a little envious. That envy can quickly turn into low self-esteem”. Social media does help people connect better with friends and family, but on the downside, it also portrays an “edited” and “cropped” version of real life as people only post their best pictures, exciting news, and noteworthy successes. Instagram and Facebook suddenly became platforms to rub your success to others. Seeing this images increases one’s feelings of insecurity and competitiveness, which results in a bigger desire to do well. If this need is not met, then millennials will feel excluded, insecure, and depressed.

Lack of Coping skills - Millennials are often thought of as self-entitled and have low coping skills, which is why first-time work experiences are too stressful for them. This trait is often blamed on helicopter parenting. In this kind of parenting, kids are raised over protectively to the point that they’re unable to think for themselves. Because of this, children never learn to deal with disappointments on their own. When the world, doesn’t meet their expectations, they never know how to handle these situations. Especially, if they are working in a rigorous and competitive corporate environment where everyone is trying to get ahead. Millennials who lack coping skills will more likely have trouble thriving in this kind of environment no matter how skilled or qualified they are.

How to Help Depressed Millennials?

For a long time, we thought Millennials were a self-centered and lazy bunch, what if they were actually depressed? Many Millennials don’t get the help they deserve because of many reasons, one of this is because they think that asking for help is a sign of failure. You might think that since you’re not having this problem it’s going to go well for you. However, mental health issues such as depression should never be tolerated in the company. Issues like this have real effects in the workplace and are the reason why employees feel uninspired, unmotivated, and less engaged at work. Here are things you can do to make your workplace a happier, more motivating place for Millennials:.

Offer To Be a Support System - Millennials will never seek support unless you present yourself to them. Open communication is needed to ensure they are motivated and engaged at work. Even if they are highly-skilled and previously efficient at their jobs, depressed millennial workers will suddenly exhibit low performance and engage in absenteeism.

Counseling and Treatment Programs - Workplace counseling is one way to help employees deal with work-related stress or personal issues. In fact, it’s not rare for companies today to offer counseling and therapy sessions through their employee assistance program. Most of these services are offered through in-person counseling or telephone-based sessions. Depression often comes hand in hand with addiction. It often results in substance abuse. In this cases, drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs and therapy groups will be a big help.

Informational Campaign and Seminars - When everyone is informed both workers and employers, early signs of depression can be prevented. This will improve work relationship and minimize conflicts in the office.


Depression is an illness, and while there are many treatments for it, there is still no cure. Millennials undergoing work depression shouldn’t be cast aside. They need help, after all, they will be our world’s next big workforce. Before shunning your low-performing Millennials and branding them as lazy and entitled, think again and try to consider their mental health.


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    • Haleykieser profile image

      Haley Kieser 

      13 months ago from Arizona

      The thing is, Millennials aren't lazy, instead they use tools and resources to get things done productively and efficiently. "Work smarter, not harder" is how Millennials think and work. Generations before focused on working harder. I like your analysis, but wish more people would see that Millennials are just much more adaptive to technology than any other generation prior.

    • Armela Escalona profile imageAUTHOR

      Armela Escalona 

      14 months ago from Philippines

      Thanks for the kind words Mary :) As a millennial, I hope other generations can better understand us!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      14 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      You've just shared a good analysis of what's happening to millennial in the work force. Without this, most likely we'll be judgmental of millennials we know.


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