Depression and anxiety soars in young women in social media age, experts report


There has been an alarming rise in rates of anxiety and depression among young women in the age of social media, experts warn.

More than a quarter (26%) of young women, aged 16 to 24, are suffering worrying symptoms - more than three times the rate for men the same age (9%).  

Between a fifth and a quarter of young women have also self-harmed - most commonly cutting themselves - compared to just 10% of men the same age.

The figures, contained in a new report published by NHS Digital, found the rate at which young women are experiencing common mental health disorder symptoms (CMD) is increasing rapidly compared to young men. 

In 1993, young women were twice as likely as young men to exhibit CMD symptoms, but they are now three times more likely to experience them. 

CMD symptoms include irritability, worrying, depression, anxiety, feelings of panic, compulsion and trouble sleeping.

The study found that while rates of severe CMD symptoms are falling among young men, they are rising among young women (from almost 10% in 1993 - to 15% in 2014).

Women, aged 16 to 24, are also the most likely to drink at hazardous levels compared to women in other age groups, with 26% having done so, according to the report.

Sally McManus, lead author of the study, from the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), said women aged 16 to 24 had "very high rates" of anxiety and depression.

She said it was known that women suffer due to violence and abuse, but added that young women in the study are the "first cohort to come of age in social media ubiquity".

She added: "This is the context they are coming into and it warrants further investigation."

The report, on the state of mental health across England, is based on research among 7,500 members of the public.