More than a fifth of youngsters in the South West believe their prospects have been "permanently damaged" by the recession, a new report claims.
More than a third of the so-called "lost generation" in parts of the Westcountry have reported feeling depressed as a result of the stagnant labour market.
The Prince's Trust, which conducted a survey of more than 2,000 16 to 25-year-olds said the results showed the emotional toll of the economic crisis.
Since the banking crisis sparked economic turmoil in 2008, long-term youth joblessness in Devon and Cornwall has soared from 340 in 2008 to 2,850 at the end of last year.
The Youth Index report this week paints a "bleak picture" with one in seven surveyed (14%) saying they feel their career now has no future.
Dermot Finch, regional director of The Prince's Trust, said: "We fear that a happy New Year could prove very elusive indeed for these youngsters if they aren't supported into jobs, education or training."
Experts claim little has changed during the last 12 months and say it is no surprise that young people are feeling "pretty down".
Jenny Rudge, chief executive of Careers South West, said the labour market was "shut" at the moment, despite high unemployment and a skills shortage.
She said she was worried about where the "innovation" needed to grow the economy was going to come from.
"These figures are very worrying and there will be a group which are permanently damaged," she added.
"It feels like we are on hold and could get even trickier in 2013 and 2014 and we do run the risk of having this lost generation who will feel more disillusioned."
Youth unemployment hit the million mark nationally last year, prompting the Government to announce a £1 billion Youth Contract.
Private companies have been drafted in to try to tackle the problem by getting teenagers with no qualifications into education or employment.
The Prince's Trust warns many are "losing hope".
It says many are becoming trapped in a cycle of long-term joblessness and has drafted in celebrities such as singer Alesha Dixon and musician and record producer Mark Ronson as youth ambassadors to help.
The fifth instalment of the Youth Index comes after long-term youth unemployment in the region grew by 336% in four years.
Based on interviews with 2,136 16 to 25-year-olds, the index also reveals that one in five unemployed young people believe their confidence will never recover from their spell out of work.
It shows that young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs) are significantly more likely to feel they have no future due to the economic crisis.
More than a third of young people (36%) in Devon feel down or depressed "always" or "often", with the report showing this to be much higher among NEETs.
The same number believe their prospects have been "permanently damaged" by the recession with more than a quarter (31%) feeling they have no future due to the economic crisis.
Mr Finch added: "We know that it is often those from the most vulnerable backgrounds who end up furthest from the job market.
"Life can become a demoralising downward spiral – from a challenging childhood into life as a jobless adult."
Despite the gloom, Mrs Rudge said there had been a small drop in the number of NEETs in the two counties, from 5.6% to 5.4% in the year to November 2012.
But she added: "It is getting tougher in rural areas where transport is such a challenge for 16 to 18-year-olds.
"There is increasingly more pressure on people to move when we want the creative energy and spending power our young people to fuel our recovery."