Anxiety In Numbers: Five Anxiety Statistics To Be Mindful Of

Medically reviewed by April Justice
Updated February 19, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
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Anxiety is one of the most common mental health conditions among adults and adolescents. According to the American Psychiatric Association and American Stress Statistics, at least 30% of adults will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives, and over 40 million US adults currently live with anxiety.  

By familiarizing yourself with the statistics on anxiety, you can better understand this diagnosis and know what types of support may be effective for you or those you love.

Are you living with an anxiety disorder?

What types of anxiety disorders are there? 

Anxiety disorders comprise a broad category of mental health conditions, with anxiety as a primary symptom. A few of the most common conditions include the following:  

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): This condition is characterized by persistent and excessive worries that interfere with daily activities. This worry may be accompanied by several physical symptoms, including restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, sleep problems, and muscle tension.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD): This condition is characterized by an extreme fear of social situations and apprehensiveness about social status, role, and behavior.
  • Panic Disorder: Panic disorder is characterized by recurrent and unexpected panic attacks (sudden and terrifying physical symptoms and anxiety). 
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): OCD is characterized by recurrent intrusive thoughts (obsessions) that often lead to rituals (compulsions) to reduce fear. 
  • Specific Phobias: Phobias are marked by an intense and persistent fear of a specific object, animal, person, situation, or place. 
Among these mental health conditions, anxiety is the most common symptom. Compared to fear, an emotional response to an immediate threat, anxiety refers to fearful anticipation of a future problem or concern.

Therefore, it’s associated with avoidance behavior and physical symptoms like tension and fatigue. 

Note that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was once considered an anxiety disorder but is listed as a trauma and stressor-related disorder in the DSM-5.

Five anxiety statistics to be mindful of

Anxiety affects millions of people on a given day. The following statistics can deepen your understanding of your diagnosis and inform public health efforts to support people with anxiety and other stress-related conditions.

1. GAD affects 3.1% of the US population (6.8 million adults)

3.1% might seem like a small number, but in the context of the US population, it represents millions of people. Of the estimated 6.8 million US adults affected by GAD, 56.8% are receiving treatment, according to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA). 

If you’re part of the percentage that has not received care for GAD, note that anxiety disorders can have long-term adverse effects on your mental and physical health without treatment, including:

  • Social isolation
  • Increased risk of depression
  • Reduced performance at work, school, and other social environments
  • Greater vulnerability to physical illnesses, including heart disease, rapid heart rate, and high blood pressure

Recovery from anxiety disorders is possible with proactive and compassionate treatment, and many therapy modalities are proven effective. 

2. Women are more likely to experience most anxiety disorders than men 

The exact statistics on women and anxiety vary depending on the diagnosis, but the ADAA has the following numbers

  • Women are two times more likely than men to experience GAD, specific phobias, or panic disorder
  • Women are three times more likely to be affected by OCD than men

Researchers are still working to understand why women are more likely to develop these conditions, but current studies suggest it may be a combination of biological, cultural, and environmental factors. 

From a biological lens, evidence suggests that women’s brains process serotonin more slowly. Because serotonin may play a role in stress and anxiety responses, these findings could explain the statistics.

Another recent study found that anxiety stems from different concerns for people of various gender identities. In particular, the researchers noted that anxiety in women might intensify when there’s a specific, life-relevant condition. These conditions include working remotely, homeschooling, raising children, and the slow accumulation of everyday tasks. 

Another potential reason for differing statistics is the mental health stigmas often associated with men seeking support. Men may also struggle with these conditions but live with them alone without expressing their concerns to a therapist or doctor. If you are a man experiencing anxiety symptoms or another mental health concern, reach out for support. Part of ending the stigma is becoming part of the statistics. 

3. Nearly 50% of Americans diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder

For many people, anxiety and depression co-occur. This occurrence can make both conditions more difficult to treat, but recovery is possible. If you’re living with anxiety and depression, a therapist can help you distinguish between the two to help you know which symptoms to treat. 

Depression is associated with a persistently low mood, which could include feelings of tiredness, irritability, sadness, worthlessness, guilt, and anger. In comparison, anxiety involves feelings of intense fear and stress that may prevent individuals from engaging in daily activities.

While there’s no current evidence to suggest that depression causes anxiety, or vice-versa, people with depression often have a history of an anxiety disorder. 

4. People with anxiety disorders are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor

According to the ADAA, people with anxiety disorders are more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders. As noted previously, depression commonly occurs alongside anxiety, but other common, co-occurring mental illnesses include the following:  

  • Attention-deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Body dysmorphic disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Sleep disorders
  • Substance use disorders

This list is not exhaustive, and everyone’s experience of anxiety is different. However, dual diagnosis – the presence of two distinct disorders in the same person – is common. In the case of a dual diagnosis, your mental health professional can work with you carefully to outline the best path toward recovery. 

5. Approximately 7% of adults in the US are diagnosed with social anxiety disorder

Fifteen million adults (7%) are diagnosed with social anxiety disorder (SAD) in the US. Other sources, including the ADAA and the National Institute of Mental Health, estimate an even higher number of about 12% of US adults living with SAD at any given time after the pandemic due to the impacts of social isolation. 

Many people with SAD (more than 75%) experience the first symptoms during childhood or the early teenage years, but the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the prevalence and cultural awareness of SAD. During the earlier months of the pandemic, many people experienced dramatic changes in their social lives, coupled with illness and loss. 

These experiences of loss, isolation, and loneliness may make it difficult for people to return to social situations with the ease and pleasure they once experienced. Current studies indicate that young people and women are significantly affected by the residual effects of social isolation during the pandemic.

Are you living with an anxiety disorder?

Counseling options for anxiety 

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder or notice that your daily anxiety levels negatively impact your life, therapy can become an invaluable part of your self-care routine.

Some people prefer in-person therapy, but a growing number use online therapy to prioritize their mental health. Digital platforms like BetterHelp allow you to quickly match with a therapist from the comfort of your home, and from there, you can schedule sessions at a frequency that aligns with your lifestyle and mental health goals. Since 2013, over 30,000 accredited therapists have helped more than 2,000,000 people via BetterHelp, and many of these patients sought therapy for anxiety and related concerns. 

In addition, several studies find that online therapy can be as effective as in-person sessions. One 2020 study compared internet-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) benefits against face-to-face CBT. They found that online CBT was equally effective for more clients, specifically for treating health anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, and depression. While more research can be beneficial, current studies emphasize that online therapy is often more affordable for patients to integrate into their schedules.

Takeaway

Anxiety disorders can be complicated. However, because so many people experience them, many therapists have years of experience, tools, and compassion to offer to people living with anxiety and other mental health concerns. 

If you’re diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, you’re part of a global community of people with related experiences. You might take comfort in these statistics, which show that anxiety is widespread, well-studied by psychologists, and treatable. 

You can begin your recovery journey with a personalized combination of therapy, self-care strategies, and other interventions.

Regulate anxiety in a compassionate environment

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