So I've been thinking about this--why? Sure, there are more anti-depressants available to take, and they have minimal side effects. Back in the olden times, you wouldn't even tell anyone you were depressed because you saw "The Snake Pit" and you knew about Frances Farmer. Anti-depressants had crazy side effects and contraindications. With one class, you couldn't even eat CHOCOLATE. What sort of punishment is that? Cruel and unusual is what it is.
So, yes, people are more likely to cop to depression, and also we have more time to think about how much we hate ourselves and how hard it is to fill that black hole in our hearts and stuff.
But I think I can point to two specific reasons Gen X is so depressed: Simon and Garfunkle, and Peanuts. Wait, is that three reasons?
My parents had a bunch of Simon and Garfunkle records and 8-tracks that were played quite often, especially on Sunday mornings and road trips. Mostly we think of S+G and being kind of happy, but listen to the lyrics. Not every song is "The 59th Street Bridge Song," ya know. Most are about loneliness. Some are about suicide. Even the rather sweet "America" contains the lyric, "Cathy, I'm lost, I said, although I knew she was sleeping." That just kills me every time. As a kid I thought he was lost on the road, like we often were. But somewhere inside I knew what it meant. And there's no subtlety in "Richard Cory." He shoots himself! Blammo! There's no metaphor to cover things up! And the singer works a miserable job in a factory. No one is happy in the S+G world.
Then there's Peanuts. Those little ragamuffins totally screwed us up. The football, the psychiatrist booth, the ugly tree... I can go on. In fact, I'm pretty sure I'm an atheist because of "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." Poor sap Linus waited ALL NIGHT in his very sincere pumpkin patch for that stupid demigod to show up. He could have at least sent a gourd in his place.