Anxiety seems to be everywhere. Every day we hear reports, stories, and statistics about it. It’s like the pandemic came along and took the lid off our anxiety jar and everything started spilling out. But that perception isn’t entirely accurate. According to research conducted by The American Psychiatric Association and The U.K. Council for Psychotherapy in 2017, a third of respondents reported an increase in anxiety. The World Health Organization reported a 25% increase anxiety and depression during the first year of the pandemic. If you’re keeping score, that’s an almost 60% spike in four years! The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recently recommended that everyone from 8 years and up be regularly screened for symptoms of anxiety. Speaking of our children, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that almost 14% of our children have suffered from anxiety or depression. Medical News Today reports that anxiety affects about 40 million people in the U.S.—almost 1 out of every 5 people. Anxiety is on the rise!
But there’s more to the story. There are at least a couple of interesting things to note about the rather meteoric rise in the anxiety numbers. The first is that there is a disproportionate number of people in their thirties and below who are affected. We might have thought that it would be higher among the elderly, but that’s not where the bulge appears—it’s in the millennials and younger. The second item is that anxiety affects the affluent more. The more you have the more susceptible you are to anxiety. Again, I’m not sure that’s what we expected to find.
That’s an admittedly quick overview of anxiety but I think it’s sufficient to give us a grasp on the enormity of the problem. How did we get to this point and more important, how do we get past it?