Depression on the Rise Among Young Men

      May 18, 2022 08:53

      Cases of depression among men in their 20s have more than doubled over the last five years as social pressures increase and their coping mechanisms wane.

      According to data from the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service, 58,649 men in their 20s were diagnosed with depression last year, up 110 percent compared to 2016.

      In 2016, men in their 20s ranked fourth in depression cases after teens, men over 80 and in their 30s, but now they make up the biggest group.

      One significant factor seems to be compulsory military service. Na Hae-ran, a psychiatrist, said, "More than half of the men in their 20s who seek psychiatric help complain about their military service in one way or another. The young generation were raised by doting mothers and experienced very little control at home or at school, so they tend to feel high levels of anxiety in the military when they are cut off from their nest for the first time in their lives." 


      Jeon Duk-in at Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital said, "As competition for jobs intensifies, the young generation seem to be feeling even more pressure about the draft" because they think they lose time to develop their academic and other skills to conscription.

      One 26-year-old who completed his military service in 2019 said, "When I was in the military, two junior soldiers wanted to commit suicide and one actually slit his wrists. Both of them wondered why they had to be drafted and were nervous about being unable to adjust to society after completing their service."

      The number of men seeking psychological help after being drafted is rising quickly. A total of 4,481 new conscripts were sent home after boot camp in 2020 due to mental issues, up more than three times compared to a decade earlier. This may be because the military has become more understanding or because young men are less able to cope with the pressure, or likely a combination of both.

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