Anxiety involves feelings of worry and unease that the world is an uncertain place or that a particular situation is very challenging. We all suffer from it at some point and it’s part of our natural makeup. When we go for an interview, wait for the birth of a child, or do something out of our comfort zone like speaking in front of a crowd of people, it all produces what we know as nerves.
Anxiety becomes a mental health disorder when it starts to get so overwhelming that a person is not able to function properly or it interferes with their life.
Because it’s a common feeling, it is difficult to know when that natural anxiety tips over into being a problem that needs to be treated. Anxiety disorders can manifest in many ways including panic attacks, obsessive compulsive (OCD) behaviour, phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). True anxiety problems can be very difficult to control, leaving the sufferer feeling alone, frightened and often depressed.
- Studies have shown that anxiety disorders are a global problem with 1 in 13, or an average of 7.3% of us, suffer from them.
- European/Anglo cultures tend to have higher levels of anxiety disorder ranging from 7% to 15.5% of the population.
- Women are more affected by anxiety disorders than men and it often runs hand in hand with bouts of depression.
- Two out of three adults will not seek any treatment for their condition. For teenagers just 1 in 5 seek help.
In the USA, anxiety disorders are a significant public health issue:
- In any year, around 40 million people suffer from some form of anxiety disorder, representing just over 18% of the population.
- The average age for the onset of a first serious anxiety disorder is 21.5 years and many of those suffering will have more than one form of the disorder that complicates matters.
- As in many other countries, anxiety disorder can be associated with the condition depression and is often a by-product of long term substance abuse.
- 6 million Americans have a panic disorder, 7.7 million have PTSD and 2.2 million suffer from OCD.
- 8 million have a general anxiety disorder with the onset beginning on average in their 31st year.
- The cost to health services of anxiety disorders is thought to be $42 billion, about a third of the total mental health bill.
In Europe and the UK:
- 4 out of 15 people suffer from an anxiety or depression disorder of some sort.
- Anxiety disorders account for some 4% of all years lived with a disability (YLD) in Europe.
- In the UK, nearly 1 in 10 people have a problem with anxiety and depression. 17 out of 100 people have admitted to suicidal thoughts at some point in their lives.
- In England, women are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
- In France, the prevalence of anxiety disorders of all types is 21.6% with those more at risk being women, young people and those on low incomes.
- Of 273 people who took a mindfulness course in the UK, nearly 60% found a reduction in anxiety levels.
Across the rest of the world, the situation varies:
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Mental Health Statistics: Anxiety
8 Facts About Anxiety Disorders