Mass. Millennials' Depression Rates Among Highest In Country, Study Says

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An infographic released with the study. (Blue Cross Blue Shield)

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — A Blue Cross Blue Shield study found that older Massachusetts millennials are more likely to have behavioral health conditions like depression, hyperactivity, psychotic conditions, and substance use disorders than those in other states.

The company's Health of America report, released Wednesday, also found millennials' health begins to decline around age 27, that they are not as healthy as members of the previous generation were at the same age, and that roughly a third of millennials have "conditions that significantly affect their health."

"These findings raise significant concerns about the long-term well-being of millennials, both here in the Commonwealth and across the country," said Dr. Bruce Nash, chief physician executive at BCBS Massachusetts, in a release.

Kathryn Dallow, Vice President and Medical Director of Clinical Programs and Strategy at Blue Cross Blue Shield Massachusetts, spoke to WBZ NewsRadio about why the Bay State's millennials may have fared so poorly in the study.

"There are a lot of students in this area, a lot of young professionals starting out their careers in various industries," Dallow said. "There's student loan debt, there's economic stresses—we have a very high cost of living, and it's well known that financial pressures can contribute to anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders."

The news may not all be bad. In a release about the study, Dr. Nash noted that, because Massachusetts has more behavioral health professionals than any other state, the findings may just be a result of the system catching and diagnosing millennials' conditions—and Dallow said early detection is key.

"It's better to have something like this—any kind of mental health disorder as well as a physical condition—diagnosed early, so it can be addressed early," she said. "That actually helps save dollars and complications and suffering in the long term."

Dallow said that if people don't get diagnosed and find help early, they may turn to substance abuse later on.

"There are ways in which people can use substances socially, but to use them to the degree that they're trying to treat an underlying disorder can be exactly where the tipping point is in terms of needing professional assistance rather than self-treatment," she said.

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