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Why Do So Many People Have Anxiety

Tips For Helping Someone With An Anxiety Disorder:

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  • Make no assumptionsask the person what they need.
  • Be predictabledon’t surprise the person.
  • Let the person with the disorder set the pace for recovery.
  • Find something positive in every small step towards recovery.
  • Don’t help the person avoid their fears.
  • Maintain your own life so you don’t resent the person with the disorder.
  • Don’t panic when the person with the disorder panics, but realize it’s natural to be concerned with them.
  • Be patient and accepting, but don’t settle for the affected person being permanently disabled.
  • Say encouraging words such as: “You can do it no matter how you feel. I am proud of you. Tell me what you need now. Breathe slow and low. Stay in the present. It’s not the place that’s bothering you, it’s the thought. I know that what you are feeling is painful, but it’s not dangerous. You are courageous.”
  • Avoid saying things like: “Don’t be anxious. Let’s see if you can do this. You can fight this. What should we do next? Don’t be ridculous. You have to stay. Don’t be a coward.” These phrases tend to blame the individual for the anxiety.

Signs Your Anxiety May Be More Serious Than You Think

So, is there an anxiety epidemic? Contemporary definitions of the term epidemic no longer allude to disease as a necessary condition and consider an epidemic anything that negatively impacts the health or welfare of a large number of people in a population. One in five people in the UK suffer high levels of anxiety at any one time one in nine people worldwide will experience an anxiety disorder in any one year anxiety prevents you from working, learning, or performing your social and family responsibilities to your full potential anxiety and stress account for over one-third of all work-related ill health and costs over £100 billion in England each year in lost productivity and reduced quality of life and anxiety can kill even sub-clinical levels of anxiety can increase the risk of mortality by 20%.

So, yes, we do have a modern anxiety epidemic, but then so have most previous generations. The difference is that in our modern era we have a whole set of new and evolving anxieties and a growing awareness of anxiety as a potentially distressing and disabling state. Well need to rise to the contemporary challenges that this presents in terms of understanding the causes of anxiety and the suffering it conveys, dealing with the economic cost to society that anxiety imposes, developing new and more effective evidence-based intervention and prevention programmes, and providing more realistic levels of funding for mental health services and research.


Why Do So Many People Have More Anxiety At Night

When the lights go out, the distractions disappear, and everything becomes a little more unsettling.

The exact causes that create anxiety during the day can generate anxiety at night. However, the combination of anxiety and insomnia may be mistaken for other diseases, and the difference in environment between night and day can lead you to believe its something else. So, what causes worry at night, and what can you do about it? Anxious emotions are the bodys natural alarm reaction to actual or imagined psychological or physical threats, and they can affect anybody. Its even considered serviceable to the person in moderate cases.

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Are There Risk Factors For Anxiety

There are multiple factors that create vulnerability to anxiety under stressful circumstances. On a purely psychological level is the ability to manage negative emotions. People lacking emotion regulation skills are at heightened risk of both anxiety and depression. Having a history of adverse life experiences during childhood, such as intense maltreatment or bouts of serious illness, also predisposes people to anxiety. It doesnt change the makeup of genes but it can permanently alter their level of activity so that that the brain is constantly on the lookout for and perceiving potential threats. Perhaps the strongest risk factor for anxiety is having the personality trait of neuroticism. It denotes the degree to which the negative affect system is readily activated. People high in trait neuroticism are dispositionally inclined to find experiences distressing and to worry.

Anxiety Statistics By Sex

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The following statistics are specific to people in the U.S.:

  • Anxiety disorders are more common in females than in males. Anxiety affects 23% of female adults and 14% of male adults.
  • Anxiety is also more prevalent in female adolescents than male adolescents . As of 2001-2004, 38% of female adolescents had an anxiety disorder versus 26.1% of male adolescents.
  • Women are twice as likely to have generalized anxiety than men.
  • The prevalence of OCD in women and men is equal, affecting 2.2 million adults.

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When Is Anxiety Normal

It’s normal to feel anxious, nervous, or worried at times. Maybe youve felt anxious when you had to talk in front of a group. Or nervous before a tryout or a big test. Maybe you have felt anxious when you werent sure your surroundings were safe. Or worried when a loved one was sick.

Most people have felt like this.

Anxious feelings can be uncomfortable but they serve a purpose. They warn that something that matters to you is at stake. With anxious feelings, you might think, I need to do well here.” Or, “This counts get ready.” Or, “Be careful.

Anxiety sets off the bodys fight-or-flight response. Its a normal release of hormones that helps you gather the focus and energy you need for a challenge or possible threat. The fight-or-flight response causes the physical feelings that can happen with anxiety.

For example, when youre anxious, you might feel butterflies in your stomach. Or you might have sweaty palms or shaky hands. You might notice your mouth is a little dry. Or your face feels a little warm. You might feel your breathing or heartbeat get faster. With anxiety, you might feel one or a few of these.

Feelings like these can help you do what you need to do. You can go ahead with the tryout or take the exam even though youre nervous. You can check your surroundings to make sure youre safe. You can focus on what a loved one needs and plan how to help instead of getting caught up in the worry.

Can Uncertainty Cause Anxiety

Uncertainty doesnt cause anxiety but it creates breeding grounds for anxiety, and the rise of uncertainty in much of public and private life may be one reason why anxiety has become the most prevalent mental health condition today. Worry, the cognitive component of anxiety, is activated by the mere possibility of a bad outcomeand for many modern concerns, possibility can almost never be ruled out entirely. But of course, possibility does not equal probability. Anxiety with its payload of worry can be seen as an attempt to avoid uncertaintyto dispel the discomfort it creates. The better approach, say experts, is to learn to tolerate some uncertainty and recognize that most of life is not black or white but shades of gray.

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What Happens In The Brain With Anxiety

Neuroimaging studies reliably show changes in brain function among those who experience chronic anxiety, and they involve dysfunction of connectivity among areas of the brain that work together to orchestrate emotional response. Under normal circumstances the brain region known as the amygdala flags threats and, in an act of protection, sends out a signal to many parts of the brain. The stress response system kicks in immediately, preparing the body for action. On a slower track, signals travel to the prefrontal cortex, the so-called thinking brain, where the threat can be evaluated and, if needed, action planned to ameliorate any potential danger. But in anxiety, often because the amygdala has been sensitized by early adverse experience, it overresponds, overwhelming the capacity of the PFC to rationally assess and manage any threat, however remote or hypothetical.

Researchers have recently identified a tiny brain region known as the BNST, the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, as a major node in brain circuits of anxiety. About the size of a small sunflower seed, it is considered an extension of the amygdala. Its primary function is to monitor the environment for vague, psychologically distant, or unpredictable threatssay, imagining that youll stumble badly and embarrass yourself when you give that upcoming talk. And when activated, it sends out alarms prompting alertness and hypervigilance to potential dangerthe hallmarks of anxiety.

What Might Indicate That Both Anxiety And Depression Are Present

What is Anxious Depression?

Traits that may signal the presence of both anxiety disorder and depression include:

  • Irrational worries or fears that wont go away
  • Physical symptoms, such as fatigue, headaches, rapid heartbeat, labored breathing or abdominal pain
  • Difficulty going to sleep or staying asleep
  • Changes in eating habits either too much or too little
  • Trouble remembering, making decisions or concentrating
  • Constant feelings of sadness or worthlessness
  • Loss of usual interest in activities or hobbies
  • Feeling often tired and cranky
  • Inability to relax and live in the moment
  • Suffering from panic attacks, including the sense of losing inner control2

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Anxiety Statistics By Education Levels

  • Americans with higher education are less likely to have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety affects 3.9 million adults who have less than a high school education, 3.3 million who have graduated high school, 2.8 million with some college, and 3 million who had a college education or more.
  • One Canadian study found that for each additional level of education, people were 15% more likely to see a psychiatrist.
  • Anxiety is the highest concern for counseling services in college. Of the college students receiving counseling services, 41.6% are seen for anxiety.

Can Anxiety Problems Be Inherited Genetically

Research shows that having a close relative with anxiety problems might increase your chances of experiencing anxiety problems yourself. This is sometimes called ‘anxiety sensitivity’.

At the moment there is not enough evidence to show whether this is because we share some genes that make us more vulnerable to developing anxiety, or because we learn particular ways of thinking and behaving from our parents and other family members as we grow up.

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Do Social Networks Contribute To Epidemics Of Anxiety And Depression

A startling recent increase in depression for adolescents and young adults suggest they are being attacked by something very recent. Researchers point to the rise of social media. Is this just another case of paranoia about new technology?

Anxiety and depression are diseases of modern life rarely, if ever, found in subsistence societies. Something about modern life causes depression.

The Epidemic of Depression

This point was driven home by an epidemic of depression that overcame developing countries as their population abandoned a rural way of life and relocated to cities.

For Americans born a century ago, the chances of suffering any episode of major depression in the lifetime was only about 1 percent. Today, the lifetime incidence is about 20 times greater . Depression is also striking at ever-younger ages. One way of winnowing out possible causes of the epidemic of depression is to look for psychological advantages of living on a subsistence farm compared to city life.

When Farmers Were Happy

Thanks to their high activity level, and a high-fiber diet, subsistence farmers were slender and mostly free of diabetes, heart disease, and the other obesity-related problems that are the bane of modern life.

The Social Explanation

Being part of a stable local community protected hunter-gatherers and subsistence farmers against depression as opposed to the more anonymous conditions of urban life where social isolation is more likely.

Whats The Outlook For People With Anxiety

Why So Many People Have Anxiety

With the proper treatment protocol, the outlook for people with anxiety is positive.

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, combining psychotherapy with medication and other interventions can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

That said, they point out that treatment success varies and depends on the severity of the anxiety and other co-existing conditions.

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Anxiety Symptoms List: Learn More About Anxiety

The best way to stop anxiety is to understand it. The more you understand what causes your symptoms, what they mean, why you struggle with them, and what you can do to stop them, the more youll be able to start making real progress on your own anxiety symptoms.

We have broken each symptom down into categories for easy navigation. You can click on any of the links below to be taken to the section of your choice immediately, or you can scroll down to start reading more about the symptoms as a whole.

Note: Some people experience anxiety symptoms that are 100% mental with no physical symptoms. Others experience anxiety symptoms that are 100% physical: they are anxious physically even though they have no worries and their minds are clear. Most people experience some combination of the two. There is no right or wrong way to experience anxiety.

Keep in mind that categorizing some anxiety symptoms is difficult. For example, you may feel that what we consider to be a whole-body symptom is more of a chest symptom, and vice versa. So if you dont find a symptom you struggle with in the section you expect, it may be in another section.

The way that anxiety manifests itself has not really changed over the centuries. Were still plagued by the same forms of anxiety disorder as our ancient ancestorsbut the things that trigger our anxiety have certainly changed.

Types Of Anxiety Disorders:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is characterized by chronic and exaggerated worry and tension, much more than the typical anxiety that most people experience in their daily lives. People may have trembling, twitching, muscle tension, nausea, irritability, poor concentration, depression, fatigue, headaches, light-headedness, breathlessness or hot flashes.

Panic Disorder: People with panic disorder have panic attacks with feelings of terror that strike suddenly and repeatedly with no warning. During the attacks, individuals may feel like they can’t breathe, have lost control, are having a heart attack or even that they are dying. Physical symptoms may include chest pain, dizziness, nausea, sweating, tingling or numbness, and a racing heartbeat. Some people will have one isolated attack, while others will develop a long term panic disorder either way, there is often high anxiety between attacks because there is no way of knowing when the next one will occur. Panic disorders often begin early in adulthood. Many people with panic disorder also suffer from agoraphobia . See more on Panic Attacks.

Phobias are irrational fears. Individuals with phobias realize their fears are irrational, but thinking about or facing the feared object or situation can bring on a panic attck or severe anxiety.

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Types Of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety becomes a disorder when its irrational, excessive and when it interferes with a persons ability to function in daily life. Anxiety disorders include:

  • Generalised anxiety disorder
  • Social phobias fear of social situations
  • Specific phobias for example a fear of open spaces or enclosed spaces
  • Panic disorders frequent and debilitating panic attacks.

How Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Related To Anxiety Disorders

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Some people feel the effects of stress in their stomachs. People with IBS have uncomfortable problems with digestion, including stomach pain, constipation and diarrhea. They also frequently have anxiety and depression, which can make symptoms worse.

The connection between IBS and anxiety comes from the nervous system partly controlling the colon. The nervous systems response to stress may affect the stomach. Among people who get treated for IBS, anywhere from 50% to 90% may also have an anxiety disorder or depression. Treatment for IBS may include stress management and psychotherapy to relieve symptoms.

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Are We Still Plagued By The Same Forms Of Anxiety As Our Ancient Ancestors

The way that anxiety manifests itself has not really changed over the centuries. Were still plagued by the same forms of anxiety disorder as our ancient ancestorsbut the things that trigger our anxiety have certainly changed.

We still experience many traditional causes of anxiety such as poor health, difficult relationships, unemployment, poverty and disadvantage, loneliness, work stress, and exposure to violence, trauma, and conflict. Even in our modern world, some of these traditional sources of anxiety are on the rise. These include loneliness relationship factors such as divorce violence and abuse including childhood abuse and neglect increased working hours and more stressful work procedures and a general sense of lack of control over our own destinies especially among our youngsters who are introduced to the possibility of failure earlier and earlier in their lives as a result of increased systematic educational testing.

Thankfully, some of the traditional causes of anxiety are generally on the decline, factors such as poverty, poor health and to some extent unemployment. But they leave in their place new anxieties, such as income inequality, living with long-term disability, and the stresses of modern day job seeking.

Anxiety Statistics In The United States

The following statistics are specific to adults in the U.S.:

  • Anxiety is the most common mental disorder in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults.
  • The prevalence by state of mental illness ranges from the lowest in Florida to the highest in Oregon.
  • The majority of adults with anxiety have a mild impairment , 33.7% have a moderate impairment, and 22.8% have a serious impairment.
  • Nearly half of survey respondents experience anxiety regularly.
  • 19 million adults experience specific phobias, making it the most common anxiety disorder in America.
  • 15 million adults have social anxiety.
  • 7.7 million adults have PTSD.
  • 6.8 million adults have generalized anxiety.
  • 6 million adults have panic disorders.

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