According to research in the United States
conducted by the Massachusetts General Hospital, anxiety levels are up across
the board. A nationally representative survey of more than 2,000 adults looked
into what worries people the most, with respondents increasingly concerned
about their health, safety, finances, politics, and personal relationships.
According to the survey, 40 percent of people said they felt more anxious than
they did a year ago, after a 36 percent jump between 2016 and 2017.
As the most common mental disorder in the
world, anxiety seems unconcerned with nationality, class or age. According to a
Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study, anxiety currently affects about one in 13
people, or 7.3 percent of the global population. According to Beyond Blue,
anxiety is slightly more prevalent in Australia at roughly 8 percent of the
population. The situation in New Zealand is a little better, with 6.1 percent
found to meet the diagnostic criteria for an anxiety disorder according to the
New Zealand Health Survey.
According to University of Queensland
researcher Dr Vanessa Cobham, as many as 1 in 10 children aged 6 to 11 now meet
the criteria for anxiety in Australia. Children as young as four have been
diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder, a distressing condition that
leaves people feeling intensely worried and fearful for their future. While the
Internet has been recognised as one possible trigger, over-stimulation, social
pressure, and rising rates of adult anxiety are also having a noticeable effect
Australian women are especially susceptible
to the anxiety epidemic, with depression also a significant problem according
to the Women's Health Survey 2018. In some very worrying statistics, 66.9
percent of Australian women felt nervous, anxious or on-edge for several days
over the last month, and 46.1 percent had been diagnosed with anxiety or
depression. According to Jean Hailes for Women's Health, "Usually women
put their health last and are very good at caretaking for other people, but this
has really highlighted to us that women's health is a really significant
While the rise in anxiety should be a big
concern for us all, Black Dog Institute clinical director Josephine Anderson
thinks that some anxiety can have a positive effect if channelled properly:
"A little anxiety, for example, will generally improve our performance...
and of course, the flight or fight response saves lives every day. But too much
anxiety can really get in the way of our doing what we want or need to do. When
anxiety threatens to overwhelm our minds, then doing something mindful -
meditating, exercising, writing, for example - can help us focus, calm and
filter out distracting, distressing anxiety-driven thoughts."
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