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Although millennials may seem to have a greater investment in health and wellness than generations before them, findings from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) suggest millennials will be substantially less healthy as they age. The report defines the following as the top 10 conditions affecting millennials, ranked by adverse health impact: Major depression Substance use disorder Alcohol use disorder Hypertension Hyperactivity Psychotic conditions Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis High cholesterol Tobacco use disorder Type 2 diabetes “While the top 10 conditions affecting millennials are not necessarily surprising, what is shocking is the prevalence rates for each of these conditions in millennials when compared to rates for previous generations,” Dr. Vincent Nelson, vice president of medical affairs for the BCBSA, told Healthline. Millennials aged 34 to 36 in 2017 were 11 percent less healthy than Gen Xers aged 34 to 36 in 2014, and had a double digit increase in diagnoses for eight of the top 10 health conditions. Still, 83 percent of the 55 million millennials surveyed in 2017 considered themselves in good or excellent health, despite the BCBSA analysis revealing otherwise. “Because significant health challenges are rising among millennials earlier than in previous generations, we must address these issues now,” said Nelson. Mental health conditions hit millennials hardest When compared to the national population, millennials are more affected by behavioral health conditions than physical, with the highest increases shown in rates of major depression and hyperactivity. “While we may be seeing moderate diagnosis impact across all generations for previously stigmatized behavioral health conditions, millennials are seeing higher growth in prevalence than either Gen X or baby boomers,” said Nelson. Major depression, substance abuse disorder, and alcohol use disorder were the top three conditions for millennials. Deborah Serani, PsyD, professor at Adelphi University and award-winning author of “Living with Depression,” says the prevalence of these conditions among millennials doesn’t surprise her. She believes the following circumstances in which millennials grew up are contributing factors: 1. Technological advances Because of technology, millennials were the first generation to grow up without learning how to maintain eye contact, become adept at reading facial expressions, or deepen awareness of the textures of emotions within themselves or others. “This lack of emotional awareness, clinically called alexithymia, makes it hard for millennials to understand their thoughts and feelings,” Serani told Healthline.
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