Why Most Millennials Find Holiday Gatherings Stressful

December 22, 2015, 1:43 PM UTC
Young adults at a party at the Local 16 bar and restaurant Oct. 13, 2015 in Washington, DC.
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Young adults split their attention between the televisied debate and scanningTwitter on their smart phones during a debate watch party at the Local 16 bar and restaurant October 13, 2015 in Washington, DC. Democratic candidates Jim Webb, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley and Lincoln Chafee squared off on the CNN-hosted debate in Las Vegas. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Photograph by Chip Somodevilla — Getty Images

Christmas gatherings may not be the best time for millennials, with a new study showing that seven out of 10 of them suffer from a form of social anxiety.

In a new survey with 1,188 respondents by Joyable, an online mental health service, 70% of those between the ages of 18 and 29 experience social anxiety, more than any other age group. Out of young adults who felt stress in a social situation, 51% of them say they depend on social media to get them through the holiday celebrations, while 45% of them say it’s their smartphone that’s their go-to hiding place.

Anxiety disorders are said to be one of the most common forms of mental illness, afflicting 40 million Americans aged 18 years or older, or 18% of the population, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Of these disorders, social anxiety disorder—characterized by an extreme fear of judgement in a social context—affects 6.8%, or 15 million people, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

The coping mechanisms of those with social anxiety, according to Joyable’s survey, point to the plate and the bottle. Fifty-one percent turn to eating to help get through social events, while 38% turn to alcohol. “This is a serious problem that can have serious consequences, and these results show just how widespread social anxiety is,” Pete Shalek, co-founder and CEO of Joyable, said in a statement.

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