Anxiety really has increased over the past 10 years – but why?

by ARKANSAS DIGITAL NEWS

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JT0A56 Zoloft 100 mg, Sertraline, is prescribed to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress

OVER the past few years, I have noticed an increasing number of people sharing their experiences of feeling anxious, whether it is celebrities opening up in interviews or friends chatting over a drink. This got me thinking: are more people feeling anxious these days or are they just more willing to talk about it?

This apparent uptick seems to be seen in studies of anxiety prevalence – but dig into the details and the picture isn’t so clear. As for what is behind this possible rise, the covid-19 pandemic is an obvious cause, yet it isn’t the only one: economic and political factors may also play a role.

Let’s look at the pandemic first. “It was a phenomenon that none of us had experienced, a global issue that understandably caused a huge amount of stress,” says David Smithson at the charity Anxiety UK. “Who wouldn’t be worried?”

Rising anxiety

Levels of anxiety rose at the start of the pandemic, with the World Health Organization reporting a 25.6 per cent increase in anxiety disorders in 2020 as lockdowns and other restrictions were brought in and people grappled with an unknown virus and its impact on their lives. But this rise didn’t persist, according to a review of 177 studies looking at people in high-income countries, with levels falling as the pandemic continued.

This chimes with Smithson’s experience. “We saw that rise through demand for our support services from the start of the pandemic for about two years,” he says. “We have seen, in the last 12 months or so, that demand has dipped down…

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