10 Facts About Anxiety That Everyone Should Know
Updated January 22, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC
Understanding anxiety and how it functions is one of the most effective ways anyone can start healing themselves or start helping someone who is in need. By learning about the facts about the anxiety, you can become more equipped to fight it and keep it under control.
- Anxiety Is Incredibly Common
Everyone experiences anxiety from time-to-time, and it is an entirely normal response to stress. When anxiety becomes chronic or interrupts daily life, it may be an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are also common.
In fact, In the United States, more people struggle with anxiety disorders than any other mental condition, and just over 19 percent of the population who are 18-years-old and older will have one each year. This equates to around 40 million adults who are dealing with anxiety disorders.
Among adolescents, it is believed that nearly 32 percent will struggle with anxiety annually. Similarly, around 31 percent of all adults in the U.S. have experienced anxiety disorders at least once in their lifetime.  Around the globe, the World Health Organization estimates that 1 in 13 individuals will experience an anxiety disorder, and unfortunately, many do not have access to adequate and affordable care. 
- Anxiety Doesn’t Discriminate
As you can see, anxiety can affect people of any age in staggering numbers, and the same can be said for the sexes. Both males and females can have anxiety disorders, but statistics show that women may have a higher tendency toward anxiety than men. 
However, this may also have to do with some of the cultural beliefs surrounding anxiety and other mental illnesses, like depression. 
For example, many men may feel that having a problem makes them weak and that they shouldn’t ask for help, and this may lead to the discrepancy between males and females regarding anxiety disorder statistics.
- Anxiety Can Come In Different Forms
Anxiety is an umbrella term that can describe a set of symptoms that can vary in severity, but there are actually a few different types of anxiety disorders. Some include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety, and specific phobias.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) are also highly associated with anxiety because of their symptoms. They are often categorized by clinicians as linked to the family of anxiety disorders. According to the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-V, there is a close relationship between anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive and related disorders, which is why the manual diagnostic lists these disorders close to one another.
Nonetheless, if a person has one of these conditions, they can still experience one of the other types of anxiety disorders. Someone with OCD might display signs of panic disorder if he or she cannot carry out the compulsions that help calm their thoughts.
- Anxiety Can Co-Exist With Other Mental Health Conditions
If it wasn’t already bad enough on its own, anxiety is typically comorbid with other issues, such as bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and depression, which are some leading mental health concerns around the world. It is estimated that as much as 50 percent of individuals with an anxiety disorder will also experience depression as well. 
It is currently unknown why anxiety and depression are found paired together frequently. Still, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), it is speculated that they may have similar biological mechanisms in the brain, have overlapping symptoms, and that they can have the same triggers. 
Because of this, anxiety disorders and depression can sometimes be treated simultaneously with the use of antidepressants, particularly SSRIs. 
- Anxiety Has Several Different Symptoms
While fear, worrying, and dread are considered to be the hallmark traits of anxiety, anxiety disorders can present themselves in several different ways and can be entirely mental or include physical symptoms as well. Many patients report having both.
For instance, some of the most common signs of an anxiety disorder other than persistent worrying over a prolonged period are restlessness, insomnia, fatigue, an increase in heart rate and body temperature, palpitations, as well as sweating and tremors.
These physical symptoms are especially prevalent in those who struggle with panic disorder and social anxiety.
- Anxiety Can Be Impairing
While anxiety is a completely normal biological response in many cases, if it is chronic, it can be destructive in multiple aspects of a person’s life. If anxiety disorders are left untreated, they can be detrimental to one’s social life and hamper their ability to be productive at school or work.
Statistics show that people with anxiety disorders are also approximately three to five times more likely to visit the doctor regularly than those without one. Additionally, patients with anxiety disorders are also six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric concerns. 
However, these hospitalizations are not unwarranted in many cases, as the symptoms of panic disorder can be extremely severe and interfere with a person’s daily life.
- Anxiety Can Increase Your Risk Of Addiction
A lot of people who struggle with anxiety disorders find themselves using various coping mechanisms to help take the edge off and feel better, even if it’s very temporary.
This can include smoking, drinking alcohol, drugs, and even food. Certain foods, particularly ones high in fats and sugars, can provide temporary relief. Because of this, they are often referred to as “comfort foods.” Unfortunately, people can become dependent on any substance, leading to addiction. In the long run, some of them might even make anxiety worse, too.
For instance, someone might resort to drugs and alcohol to keep their panic disorder under control, but over time, this can create dependency, and if they don’t have these substances, they will begin to panic more intensely. Another excellent example of all of this is an individual with social anxiety may rely on substances to feel more comfortable or talkative in social situations.
- Anxiety Has Many Potential Causes
There isn’t a single cause for a person to develop an anxiety disorder, and it can vary from person to person. However, even though anxiety is a complex condition, many of its risk factors have been identified.
Many uncontrollable aspects such as a person’s genetics, biological processes like brain chemistry, as well as life events, and environmental factors can lead to the development of anxiety in an individual. For example, someone who has a shy temperament due to the environment that he or she grew up in might develop social anxiety.
Other sources such as substance abuse and stress can also trigger it in people too. Even caffeine, which is a widely-accepted drug, and consumed by millions every day, can potentially cause anxiety and worsen symptoms. 
- Anxiety Is Undertreated
Unfortunately, it is estimated that only around 36 percent of individuals who are experiencing anxiety disorders of any sort will reach out and try to get help.  The lack of diagnoses is one of the main reasons that it is undertreated, and unfortunately, this leads to additional issues such as decreased productivity and higher mortality rates. 
There are many reasons why treatment-rates are low, such as personal beliefs and stigmatization regarding mental illness or a lack of access to care and mental health education in many places in the world. Still, since anxiety can be effectively managed through a variety of resources, there should be an increasing trend in regards to people finding treatment for anxiety disorders, overall.
- Anxiety Is Very Treatable Through Different Methods
Despite the statistics mentioned in the previous section, there are a few strategies people can take to combat anxiety. Treatment for anxiety disorders often involves psychotherapy, and, alternative treatments, like support groups, and exercise and relaxation techniques, or a combination of different kinds.
Psychotherapy is highly recommended by most professionals for the treatment of anxiety disorders because it can help identify the cause(s) of why you have anxiety, and you can learn how to manage or even eliminate it.
One popular therapeutic approach for anxiety is cognitive behavior therapy. Of the ways that CBT can assist you is by desensitizing you to the objects of your anxiety. For example, someone who has social anxiety or panic disorder can learn how to stop avoiding things that create stress through regular CBT sessions.
Therefore, therapy is an excellent choice for the long-term treatment of anxiety; however, many patients successfully treat their condition by taking advantage of all of the options they can.
How To Find Help
Therapy for anxiety disorders don’t require any consultation with a medical professional, and many people find this route much easier when trying to find solutions to their problems. Therapy can be enjoyed in-person and online, and they are both equally as effective, but nonetheless, it’s always up to personal preference.
If attending traditional, face-to-face methods doesn’t suit you, perhaps due to social anxiety or stress related to traveling, online counseling and therapy is always available and comes with many perks, such as not having to worry about transportation, very flexible scheduling, and affordability.
If therapy is inconvenient to attend, it can just create more stress and anxiety. At BetterHelp, licensed professionals are available to make your life easier by making therapy as accessible as possible and are qualified to treat all types of anxiety. You can attend from the comfort of your own home, and like in-person therapy, confidentiality is required, and all sessions will be discrete.
Understanding anxiety is one of the first steps that people can take to fighting it. Through education and learning about the statistics and facts about anxiety, people can become more compelled to find treatment if they need it, and many of the myths and stigmas regarding mental health issues will dwindle over time. Whether you have severe panic disorder or you are struggling with social anxiety that fades after an event, if you are struggling with the anxiety of any kind, do not hesitate to talk to someone; the most important fact about anxiety is that it can be beaten with some help.
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