Between 2014 and 2017, prevalence of major depression and hyperactivity among millennials increased by about 30%, a new report found. 

Millennials have been blamed for killing everything from mayonnaise to middle children, and a new study released last week found what could go next: millennials themselves. 

Analyzing data from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Index, Moody’s Analytics found that if current trends continue and millennial health continues to decline over the next 10 years, millennials could spend as much as 33 percent more on healthcare, see their mortality rates rise by as much as 40 percent, and see their annual income reduced by as much as $4,500 each, when compared to members of Generation X at the same age.

Together, these factors “could have a crippling effect on the economy,” the report concluded.

Millennials — defined as those born between 1981 and 1996 — are the largest generation in American history, with nearly 73 million living in the US in 2019. They also comprise the largest segment of the American workforce (35 percent), making them integral to the future of the country and its economy. 

Gen Xers were born between 1965 and 1980. 

“Millennials are the largest, most educated, and most connected generation ever,” Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Analytics, said in a press release. “But they also have serious health issues that if not addressed will have serious long-term consequences for their well-being and the performance of the U.S. economy.” 

Compared to Gen Xers at the same age, millennials are experiencing higher rates of hypertension and high cholesterol, both of which tend to grow more expensive to treat over time as their effects begin to trigger other, more serious conditions like heart or brain diseases. 

Millennials are also suffering from behavioral health issues at substantially higher rates. Between 2014 and 2017, prevalence of major depression and hyperactivity among millennials increased by about 30%, the report found. 

The consequences are already being seen. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, accidental deaths, including overdoses and suicides, caused 60% of deaths among 25-29 year olds in 2017. In 2002, those causes accounted for less than half of all deaths in the same age bracket.

Millennials’ poor health not only poses a threat to their medical well-being and mortality, but their economic well-being, too.

“As millennials become less healthy, they are more likely to miss work or stop working altogether,” the report reads. “Furthermore, even when they are working, health concerns may prevent them from being as productive as they would have been had they had the same health profile as previous generations.”

“These findings should serve as a call to action among policymakers and the healthcare community at large”

Millennials wouldn’t be the only ones to suffer; the entire American economy would bear the brunt of this growing crisis. The US already spends more than 18% of its GDP on healthcare, the highest rate in the developed world, and the rising cost of millennials’ healthcare would further tax not only consumers and businesses, but state and federal governments, the report said.

These impacts would most likely be concentrated in already-struggling economic areas, potentially worsening income inequality and “contributing to a vicious cycle of even greater prevalence of behavioral and physical health conditions,” the report found. 

“These findings should serve as a call to action among policymakers and the healthcare community at large to address declining health among younger Americans before the more severe consequences in this analysis become reality,” the report concluded. “If nothing is done, the impacts could be game-changing for the U.S. and its economy.”