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How Common are Anxiety Disorders? Top 10 Statistics & Facts

Anxiety is a relatively common disorder that affects millions of people worldwide every year. 

When it comes to living with an anxiety disorder, the difficulty of managing symptoms can range pretty widely from person to person. Some individuals may experience mild and highly manageable symptoms, while others may find the disorder extremely severe and debilitating. 

Regardless of the severity, finding the proper treatment plan is essential to keeping your anxiety in check so that you can live a more stress-free life. 

In this article, we will discuss the ins and outs of anxiety, including the different types, warning signs, prevalence, and more. Plus, keep reading to learn about 10 top anxiety disorder statistics in 2022.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a term used to describe the general feeling of worry and nervousness that occurs in circumstances when a person is unsure of an event or outcome. 

On the other hand, anxiety disorder is the medical and psychological term for the mental health condition in which moderate to severe anxiety is the primary symptom. Anxiety disorders can occur for a variety of reasons, including both genetics and environmental stress. 

Types of anxiety disorders

The first step to understanding your own anxiety is to learn about the different types of anxiety. Healthcare practitioners can help you receive a proper diagnosis that accurately categorizes your anxiety disorder. 

There are many different types of anxiety, each with specific symptoms and side effects. These include: 

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): GAD is one of the most common types of anxiety disorders and is characterized by a state of persistent worrying that lasts six months or more. There are not typically any specific life events or initial triggers for GAD — instead, GAD tends to be a more all-encompassing type of anxiety disorder. 
  • Panic disorder: Panic disorders are a less common and more severe type of anxiety disorder characterized by sudden onsets of intense fear and panic attacks. A panic attack can vary in its symptoms, but can include a racing heartbeat, sweating, shaking, tingling, and nausea.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): OCD is a more complex anxiety disorder that deals with the overlap of obsessions (intrusive or impulsive thoughts and images) with compulsive behaviours (excessive cleaning, washing, counting, etc.). An OCD diagnosis is considered in people who spend more than an hour each day thinking about obsessions and carrying out compulsive behaviours. 
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): PTSD is a very specific type of anxiety disorder caused by a past traumatic experience (sexual or physical violence, serious injury, death, etc.). Along with feelings of general anxiety, PTSD can include symptoms such as hyper-vigilance, moderate to severe anger, avoidant behaviour, and difficulty sleeping. More severe cases can even include severe dissociation or hallucinations
  • Social anxiety disorder: Social anxiety is a type of anxiety disorder centred specifically around social situations (public speaking, parties, social events, etc.). The main indicator of social anxiety is a moderate to severe fear of judgment from others, combined with self-consciousness. 
  • Separation anxiety disorder: Separation anxiety is most common in children, though it can be diagnosed in adults as well. This type of anxiety disorder is characterized by a fear of separation from loved ones, paired with worry about loved ones’ safety when they are away. 
  • Agoraphobia: Agoraphobia is a type of phobia that deals with an intense fear of public spaces. This is similar to social anxiety but is often much more severe, with people suffering from agoraphobia sometimes becoming unable to leave their homes. 
  • Other phobias: There is a wide range of additional phobias outside of agoraphobia that fall within the anxiety disorder category. Common phobias include a fear of heights, needles, cramped spaces, and insects or animals. 

Some individuals with anxiety disorders may experience high-functioning anxiety — a variant of the condition in which a person still has a diagnosable anxiety disorder but does not find it to be debilitating most of the time. 

How common are anxiety disorders?

Mood and anxiety disorders are some of the most commonly experienced disorders within the Canadian population, according to the Government of Canada. While more recent surveys and research are needed for Canada specifically, an estimated 3 million Canadian adults reported having a diagnosed mood or anxiety disorder in 2013.

Anxiety vs. depression

While anxiety and depression are two separate mental health conditions, it is common for these two to overlap with one another. 

In a 2017 study published by the Public Health Agency of Canada, it was uncovered that generalized anxiety disorder often occurs comorbidly with major depressive episodes (MDE). The study further states that 94% of individuals experiencing comorbid GAD and MDE reported moderate to severe psychological distress, with a further 52.4% reporting moderate to severe disability. 

Depression — or major depressive disorder, as it’s recognized in psychology — is characterized by a persistent depressed mood, loss of interest in activities and passions, and low energy. 

According to the American Journal of Psychiatry:

Across psychiatric disorders, the presence of significant anxiety symptoms generally predicts worse outcomes, and this has been well demonstrated for depression. In the STAR*D study, patients with anxious major depressive disorder were more likely to be severely depressed and to have more suicidal ideation.”

Know the warning signs

One of the most important steps in learning to properly manage anxiety is to know the warning signs and symptoms of a flare-up or episode. These can include:

  • Excessive worrying
  • Fixation on worst-case-scenarios
  • Recurring headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Poor quality of sleep
  • Irritability
  • Stomach issues (*note: stomach issues can be a major indicator of an anxiety disorder, as the hormones released during periods of stress can negatively impact gut health.)
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Hyperventilation
  • Dizziness and fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Avoidant behaviour

Anxiety and depression in children

As children go through the developmental stages of life, their chances of experiencing depression or anxiety are heightened. These experiences can lead to anxiety and depression disorders if not properly addressed or treated when they occur. 

According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA):

It is not uncommon for children to be diagnosed with both depression and an anxiety disorder, or depression and general anxiety. About half of people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.”

Treatment for anxiety and depression in children should always be determined by a healthcare practitioner specializing in pediatric mental health. By seeking the help of such a practitioner, it is easier for parents to determine the root cause of their child’s mental distress and find an effective treatment plan. 

Treatment for anxiety and depression

In terms of treating anxiety and depression, there are two main categories of treatment plans: medication and therapy. Many individuals will combine both medication and therapy to keep their anxiety disorder under control — though some may find that one or the other is sufficient on its own. Medication can be an effective treatment but most do come with side effects so be sure to discuss that with your healthcare practitioner.

Medications for anxiety include:

  • Antidepressants: Certain antidepressants — such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) — are used to treat both anxiety and depression disorders. These types of medications can have hefty starting side effects that ease after a month or two of consistent use. 
  • Benzodiazepines: Benzodiazepines are medications that affect the GABA neurotransmitter, providing a feeling of relaxation and sleepiness. These types of medications include Xanax and Valium, and are often only used or prescribed for emergency situations requiring immediate care.
  • Beta-blockers: Beta-blockers help prevent the release of stress hormones, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. These types of medications are often prescribed to individuals with PTSD. 

As for therapy, the most effective therapy program for anxiety disorders is cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT focuses on uncovering the root causes of behaviour, helping people suffering from anxiety disorders identify the triggers in their lives that result in anxiety flare-ups or episodes. 

Managing symptoms: staying healthy

Outside of medication and therapy, there are several preventative measures a person with an anxiety disorder can take to lessen and manage their symptoms.

These include:

  • Practicing breathing exercises and meditation
  • Regularly exercising and maintaining a healthy diet
  • Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and other substances
  • Joining support groups
  • Learning to recognize triggers before they occur

Top 10 anxiety disorder statistics 

Looking at anxiety disorder statistics helps us to better understand the prevalence of this type of disorder — in turn, helping us to gain valuable insights about who is most at risk. 

Here are our top 10 anxiety disorders statistics for 2022: 

1. Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment. (Source: ADAA)
2. Anxiety disorders affect 25.1% of children between 13 and 18 years old. (Source: ADAA)
3. The one-year prevalence rate of anxiety disorders in Canada is 6.7%; in the U.S., it is about 7%. (Source: Statistics Canada)
4. In a 2020 survey, 62% of respondents reported experiencing some degree of anxiety. (Source: SingleCare 2020 Survey)
5. An estimated 31% of all adults will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their life. (Source: NIMH)
6. Past year prevalence of anxiety disorders was higher for women (23.4%) than men (14.3%). (Source: NIMH)
7. Specific phobias are the most commonly occurring anxiety disorder, affecting more than 19 million adults in the U.S. (Source: ADAA)
8. Generalized anxiety was found to affect twice as many adults ages 26 to 49 when compared to the 50 or older age group. (Source: SAMHSA)
9. Anxiety is the highest concern for counselling services in college. Of the college students receiving counselling services, 41.6% are seen for anxiety. (Source: Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors)
10. It is estimated that 264 million adults around the globe have anxiety. (Source: World Health Organization)

Key Takeaways

When it comes to managing an anxiety disorder, seeking help from healthcare practitioners is key.

There are many treatment options available to those suffering from anxiety, including medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes. The key to successful treatment is consistency. Want to discuss your options? Connect with one of Felix's healthcare practitioners today.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, please seek help immediately by going to your nearest emergency department or by calling 911. You can also contact Crisis Services Canada’s national suicide-prevention hotline at 1-833-456-4566 if you are considering suicide or are concerned about someone who may be.

WRITTEN BY
Felix Team
Updated on:
July 15, 2022
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Tanja Vlahovich
Family Physician, MD, CCFP (EM)
Disclaimer

The views expressed here are those of the author and, as with the rest of the content on Health Guide, are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare practitioner.

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