January 10, 2014

Psychotherapist Brooke Donatone told a good story on the challenges millennials face as they transition into adulthood [“A prescription for helping millennials grow up,” Jan. 7], but this article hardly belonged in the Health & Science section. Donatone presented little empirical evidence to support her argument that the rising rates of depression among millennials are linked to millenials’ inability to think for themselves or negotiate conflict, which are the result of “helicopter-parenting.”

Maybe the actual prevalence of depression among college students hasn’t changed over the decades.Perhaps what has changed is a reduction of the stigma surrounding depression, resulting in more students willing to report it. Or maybe children of helicopter parents are the ones most encouraged to seek help when depressed. If this were true, then the rise of helicopter-parenting would correlate with increasing rates of depression among college students, as described in the Journal of Child and Family Studies study that Donatone cited, but it might not be the cause.

What else has changed over the past two decades? For example, millennials have also been raised in environments defined by increasing use of technology and social media. Maybe technology has principally contributed to increasing rates of depression and/or an increased likelihood to report depression and seek help.

The Post would better serve its readers by sharing findings from published research on these important mental health issues, rather than anecdotes that do not advance science.

Sara Pacqué-Margolis, McLean

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