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One In 5 Young Australian Women Are Living With Anxiety Or Depression

It's a sharp increase from previous years

Just in: Diagnoses of depression and anxiety disorders have surged dramatically among young women. That’s according to new data from the Housing Income and Labour Dynamics (HILDA) Survey which tracks the lives of 17,500 Australians each year.

Most alarmingly, just over 20% of women between the ages of 15 and 34 have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorders as reported by the nationwide survey. 

While the climb spans across all age groups, it is most notable in the younger demographic with these conditions increasing from 12.8% in 2009 to 20.1% in 2017.

“We’ve seen particularly large increases amongst young women. For example, amongst women aged 15 to 34, we had approximately 13 per cent reporting being diagnosed with depression or anxiety in 2009,” Professor Roger Wilkins, co-author of the HILDA report told the ABC“In 2017, that was up to 20 per cent. So one in five women in that age range has actually been diagnosed with the condition.”

Experts have noted that there could be a link between the rise and our ever-increasing time spent online. “Some of the discussion between experts in the field is the rising use of social media and the role that might be playing,” Professor Wilkins added. “Particularly as the growth has been strongest amongst younger people, who tend to be more actively engaged with social media.”

20.1% of young women are battling with depression or anxiety

Percentage of women diagnosed with depression or anxiety, by age group; 2009, 2013 and 2017. (Credit: HILDA)

The state of affairs is similarly grim when it comes to young men’s mental health, with the biggest increase from 6.1% to 11.2% among 15 to 34 year-olds. 

HILDA surveys collate data on the “reported diagnosis” of depression and anxiety disorders so, it might just reflect an increase of people seeking professional help. Yet, many sufferers don’t seek help from a healthcare practitioner or remained undiagnosed. To get a clearer picture of whether there is a real increase, the National Health Survey surveys a sample of Australians about their symptoms rather than ask about whether they have been diagnosed. According to the NHS data; the percentage of the population reporting very high levels of depression and anxiety symptoms has been steady from 2001-2018.  

If you or anyone you know needs help or advice, please call Lifeline (131 114) or Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636). If you need help immediately, please call 000.

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