Anxiety FAQ: How Common is Anxiety?

Experiencing some anxiety throughout your day-to-day life is normal. Anxiety plays an important role for your body and mind as it can sharpen your senses, help you react quickly, or alert you to a dangerous situation. Anxiety can become a mental health concern, however, if those feelings become uncontrollable and overwhelming. When anxiety reaches this point, it can disrupt your life, impacting your job, social interactions, and even day-to-day functioning. Persistent anxiety may require treatment, typically in the form of therapy and/or medication.

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How common is anxiety? 

Anxiety is the most common mental health concern in the United States. According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA), it affects over 40 million people in the United States over the age of 18¹ – that's around 19% of the population. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that an additional 7% of children² between the ages of 3 and 17 experience problems with anxiety each year.

While anxiety is very common, the ADAA reports that only 36.9% of sufferers get treatment for it³. The most common treatments include medication and therapy (such as cognitive behavioral therapy), both of which are effective but take time before you start to see results. Over time, these treatments can help to reduce or even eliminate anxiety symptoms.

The earlier you seek treatment for anxiety, the better. People who have anxiety are more likely to be diagnosed⁴ with other mental health disorders, such as major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder, or have substance abuse issues. Catching anxiety in its early stages can help to reduce its severity and reduce your risk of developing other mental health concerns.

Who is at risk of developing anxiety?

It is not known why some people develop anxiety while others do not. However, there is evidence to suggest that both your genetics and your environment play a role. If a close family member has experienced problems with anxiety, there is a greater likelihood that you will, too, during your lifetime. Exposure to stressful and traumatic events may also increase your risk. NAMI reports that most people who experience anxiety develop their first symptoms before the age of 21⁵.

You are also at a higher risk of developing anxiety if you are:

  • Female – The National Institute of Mental Health reports that women are 9% more likely than men⁶ to experience anxiety.

  • White – A study from Columbia University found that people from a white racial background were at an increased risk⁷ when compared to other races. 

  • Under the age of 35 – Anxiety can develop at any age, but according to a study published by Brain and Behavior, anxiety is most prevalent in people under the age of 35⁸. 

Which types of anxiety disorders are the most prevalent?

According to the ADAA, social anxiety disorder (SAD) is the most common anxiety disorder⁹ in the United States, affecting around 15 million adults.

Other common anxiety disorders include:

How successful is anxiety treatment?

Anxiety can be successfully treated. The most common treatment options are therapy and medication, but their effectiveness is difficult to measure as it varies from person to person. It depends on your willingness to stick to a treatment plan, your access to medical care, and the severity of your symptoms.

A study in the Dialogues in Clinical Neurosciences reports that CBT is the "gold standard" in the treatment of anxiety disorders¹⁰, and is effective at helping people manage their symptoms. Medication is also available, including certain drugs which are commonly prescribed for depression. Both therapy and medication can take several weeks before you see results. It may also take time for your medical care provider to find the most effective medication and dosage to manage your anxiety for your individual situation.

How are children affected by anxiety?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 7% of children have been diagnosed with anxiety¹¹. Children's Hospital reports that symptoms of anxiety in children¹² may include:

  • Anxiety about being apart from caregivers

  • Needing to be perfect in school or sports

  • Worrying about the future or about something bad happening to a loved one (such as death)

  • Having trouble sleeping 

  • Inability to concentrate on tasks

  • Refusal to go to school or other social situations

  • Being tired or achy all the time

If you believe your child is experiencing anxiety, make an appointment with their pediatrician. Anxiety is treatable, and developing skills to handle anxiety as a child may help them better handle those feelings as an adult.

The lowdown

Anxiety is a very common mental health concern affecting around 40 million adults in the United States. It's most common in white women under the age of 35, although anyone can develop an anxiety disorder regardless of gender, race, or age. Anxiety disorders are treatable, with the most common treatments being cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, or a combination of the two. These treatments take time to work, but they can reduce the severity of symptoms within a few weeks.

If you are struggling with persistent and overwhelming feelings of anxiety, contact your healthcare provider for an appointment as soon as possible to discuss what treatment plan is right for you.

Have you considered clinical trials for Anxiety?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Anxiety, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

Joining community groups and exercise programs for my condition made me feel empowered – but I want to be part of finding a cure.
Peter, 64

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