Why are Anxiety Disorders becoming More Common?
Anxiety disorders used to be limited to certain personality types in the last generation. Referring to a chronic condition of being anxious over a prolonged period of time, the disorder can occur in many forms. The most commonly-publicised disorder is obsessive-compulsive disorder, although there are also other forms, such as panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and phobias.
Research has shown that currently, though, The Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA) estimates that there are over 40 million Americans who suffer from anxiety disorders, with the younger generations more likely to be affected than older ones.
Why is this so? Anxiety disorders are typically caused by extreme and consistent worry. Experts who have analyzed the conditions over the past few years are quick to point to the many traumatic experiences that have transpired: for example, the Census Bureau estimates that the American’s average income has dropped by close to 10 percent ever since the recession began in 2008. In fact, they believe that this financial crunch has had as much of a traumatic effect on Americans as the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. The difference, they say, was that the 9/11 attack caused fears of terrorist attacks, while the financial crisis has spurred an extended existential worry about the future.
Is it really that serious a cause of anxiety disorders? Clinical psychologists have found that pervious generations mainly focused on getting a good education, trusting that that would lead them to a good job. In contrast, the young generation of today are not only worried about the possibility of not finding a job, they also tend to be in more debt, while some of them are even working while studying, postponing studies, starting families while going to school, or doing a myriad of other multi-tasking that eventually leads to much stress.
This means that experts actually believe that these years are more ridden with anxiety than even the 1930s Great Depression. Professors who are studying the changes over the generations report that rates of anxiety have risen steadily since that time, through both good and bad economic periods.
Among the causes of the extreme changes in the culture that the United States has undergone since then is the constant refrain of telling the young ones they can be anything they want to be, including the big bank accounts, the big job titles, the perfect body, and so on and so on. This reportedly places a lot of pressure on their shoulders. Also, these things may not necessarily manifest right away, or at all, causing much anxiety about how hard a person needs to work to achieve them, while also causing a deep-setting fear of failure.
In addition to the seemingly unrealistic expectations that result in frustration, the constantly-changing world also has the tendency to give young people a sense of being left behind. Interestingly, even technology that is supposed to be beneficial is seen as a culprit behind heightened anxiety levels, as iPhones and laptop e-mail inboxes are constantly pinging.
Of course, anxiety that is experienced every so often is, just like stress, a natural part of life. The emotional reaction actually aids us in recognizing potential threats and dealing with them. When maintained at healthy levels, anxiety may actually help a person to become more focused, thus performing better. But when the anxiety levels blow out of proportion, the effect is usually counterproductive and even debilitating. Doctors generally judge anxiety as not being normal when it lasts over a period of days even after the stressful trigger has passed, or when it becomes a hindrance in some areas of an individual’s life.
If, therefore, the external factors are among those that cause the rise of anxiety disorders, how may they be dealt with? Experts believe that exercise plays a vital role in stress management, as does changes in one’s diet. Eating more fruits and vegetables reportedly improves one’s emotional well-being, as well as the reduction of intake of alcohol and caffeine. Interestingly, alcohol is typically hailed for its relaxing effects, but in the long run, it has been shown to have a link to depression. In the end, no matter what external factors may be at play, knowing how to deal with them will help reduce the possibility of an individual’s suffering from anxiety disorders. Stress management may be one way, although having a proper mindset of looking forward to a good future may prove to be much more effective in the long run.