Why are millennials so stressed? Economy, medical coverage, housing…
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) reports that, while anxiety is on the rise in the U.S. as a whole — increasing by five points in a one-year time frame — millennials have the highest increase of all the age ranges considered.
Additionally, out of all the areas studied by the APA, the one where anxiety grew the most for this demographic, impacting almost three in four young adults, was in regard to how they were going to pay the bills.
The American Psychological Association found the same with its research, indicating that 38% of the individuals in this generation cited that their main stressor is the economy. Despite this increased anxiety and stress, many millennials are bypassing conventional medicine and seeking alternative treatment therapies instead.
For instance, a 2016 survey conducted by SERMO found that millennial patients have a greater tendency to challenge doctors when it comes to the treatment plans they suggest. Specifically, out of 2,900 health care professionals questioned, approximately 45% reported that millennials were more likely than any other age group to push back against their treatment recommendations.
Another survey, this one conducted in 2018 by the Kaiser Family Foundation, found that 45% of 18- to 29-year-olds don’t even have a primary care provider, also the highest amount of all other age groups. Why is there such a resistance to traditional medical practices?
A more informed demographic
One reason millennials may lean toward alternative therapies versus conventional medicine is because they’ve done their homework and understand the benefits of these types of treatment.
For example, millennials are two times as likely to act on health advice obtained from the internet, according to the marketing firm Hitchcock Fleming & Associates. Since a large amount of research is published online which supports alternative stress and anxiety remedies as effective options, they may be more inclined to take this route.
One such study was published in the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. In this case, 12 male volunteers engaged in chiropractic care with stress ratings taken pre- and post-treatment. Comparisons of these ratings revealed that the subjects experienced “a lower stress level and better quality of life” after receiving adjustments.
Other forms of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) have proven to offer relief as well, with research finding that massage therapy is often helpful in relieving anxiety associated with a number of mental health conditions like adjustment disorder and mood disorders. Some studies have also found that massage can often help reduce anxiety in patients undergoing treatment for cancer.
Hitchcock Fleming reports that almost one in four millennials (23%) also stay informed by reading health care practitioners’ online reviews before deciding which one to choose. This may lead them more toward visiting a highly-rated alternative health care provider when compared to traditional doctors with a lower rating.
Lower out-of-pocket costs
The SERMO survey mentioned previously also found that 54% of the health care providers questioned reported that millennial patients were more likely than other patients to inquire about treatment alternatives that were less expensive than conventional remedies.
This concern over money is consistent with Bank of America’s 2018 Better Money Habits Millennial Report, which states that the millennial generation is as good as others, if not better, at “getting their financial houses in order.”
Further, data compiled by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) supports the notion that CAM can be a lower-cost option when it comes to treating health conditions such as those related to stress and anxiety.
For instance, approximately 38% of adult Americans use CAM remedies. However, out-of-pocket expenses in this category of health care only total roughly $33.9 billion annually, an amount almost eight times less than the monies spent in conventional out-of-pocket expenses for the same time frame, which were $268.6 billion.
Additionally, while Americans spend $14.8 billion on natural products that are non-vitamin and non-mineral in nature, this is just one-third as much as the $47.6 billion in out-of-pocket payments spent on prescription drugs. Even CAM practitioner visits have lower expenditures at $11.9 billion compared to $49.6 billion spent on physician visits.
A greater focus on health and wellness
Millennials also tend to be more focused on total health and wellness, according to Sanford Health. In fact, this one value placed second on their list of priorities at 53%, with family being the only thing that scored higher at 79%.
Traditionally, CAM as a whole has been more focused on prevention, or protecting one’s health before it becomes compromised by illness or disease. So, it would only make sense that those interested in the same thing would pursue alternative remedies versus simply relying on conventional medicine, an option that is typically only sought after problems begin to present themselves.