The media paints a bright picture of “generation nice,” the 80 million or so Americans born between 1980 and 2000, but millennials—and 20-somethings in particular—have their own set of health concerns. If you fall into that age bracket and happen to be Black (14 percent of American millennials are), those issues may well affect you differently. Whether you’re an incoming college freshman or a newbie to the professional world (or perhaps the parent of one), here’s how to deal with the matters most likely to impact your mental, physical and spiritual health:
What’s the big deal?
Nearly 5.5 million Americans are obese by the time they reach their early 30s, and the prevalence of obesity doubles as people progress from their 20s to their 30s. Not only can obesity contribute to illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease, but it may also hurt you financially. According to a study published in the Journal of Business and Psychology, lifetime medical expenditures attributable to obesity for an obese 20-year-old vary from $5,340 to $29,460, rising proportionally with increasing weight. Give your average millennial diet—too high in red meat and fried foods and lacking in fresh produce—a makeover: Swap in more salads, skip the fast food and get some daily exercise.
Who’s got the blues?
African-Americans are particularly at risk for depression, a persistent state of mind-body-spirit sadness that causes sufferers to struggle with daily life. And according to a recent San Diego State University study, millennials are more prone to such depressive symptoms as feeling overwhelmed and having trouble sleeping, focusing and remembering than other age groups. For young people of color, depression is negatively nuanced further by current world events. “Given all that’s happening to African-Americans right now, racism and race-related trauma is linked to significant feelings of depression and hopelessness,” says Decatur, Ga.-based psychologist Joy Harden Bradford, Ph.D. (therapyforblackgirls.com). She recommends taking a break from social media to avoid continuously absorbing detrimental images and stories.
Treatment for depression may include talk therapy and/or anti-depressant medications, and, fortunately, Bradford has noticed a decrease
in the stigma surrounding the ailment. “Millennials seem more able to express themselves about being diagnosed with depression,” she says.
Read more in the September 2015 issue of EBONY Magazine.