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37 Facts About Anxiety You Might Not Know

Mind racing, palms sweating, heart beating rapidly—anxiety is not fun to experience and often not pleasant to talk about either. But it can be helpful to discuss this struggle that affects so many people worldwide. You may have questions about the various types of anxiety or how different people experience these feelings.

Read on to discover some interesting facts and statistics about anxiety, as well as tips on dealing with your own worries.

anxious woman

37 Facts About Anxiety

There are many causes, symptoms, and treatments for anxiety that you may not have heard about. In this list, you can find everything from the top stats to unique tips on dealing with anxiety.

1. There’s a Difference Between Anxious Feelings and Anxiety Disorders

Everyone experiences feelings of anxiety from time to time⁠—whether it’s before writing a big exam or talking in front of people. These feelings that come and go are normal. However, if anxious feelings stick around for a long time and make it hard to cope with daily life, this could signify an anxiety disorder.

2. Anxiety Can Sometimes Be Helpful

While an anxiety disorder usually makes your life harder, there are times when it makes itself useful. For example, when walking alone at night, anxiety can heighten your senses and make you more aware of your surroundings. This could help you respond faster in case of danger.

3. There are Various Types of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety shows itself in different ways, and these various types of mental illnesses are grouped under anxiety disorders. Some examples include Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Social Anxiety Disorder, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

woman with head in hands facts about anxiety

4. The USA has the Most Cases of Anxiety Disorders

According to a 2018 survey, the USA has the most cases of adult anxiety disorders. Around 76 million Americans had cases of anxiety disorders at the time. China was second in line with approximately 45 million people.

5. Women are More Likely than Men to Develop Anxiety

Statistics also show that there are more women with anxiety disorders than men. This could be due to biological differences that impact how women react to stress hormones. Or, it could be due to cultural stigmas that impact the underdiagnosis of anxiety in men.

6. Anxiety and Depression Often Go Together

Many people who have anxiety also develop symptoms of depression. The flip side is also true, and people diagnosed with depression are more likely to develop an anxiety disorder.

woman with hands over eyes

7. What You Eat Can Influence Anxiety

Eating certain foods can help reduce anxiety, while other foods can increase your tendency to get anxious. A balanced diet including dark green veggies and calming green tea can help your body cope with anxiety. But limit your intake of processed, fried, and sugary foods.

8. Children Can Also Struggle with Anxiety

Generalized Anxiety Disorder often starts in childhood. Young children may not be able to verbalize these feelings but may complain of headaches and tummy aches. Teenagers with anxiety can struggle to perform in school or take part in social interactions.

9. Developing Anxiety Could Be Genetic

Exposure to a traumatic event can trigger anxiety in anyone, but people whose parents have an anxiety disorder seem to be more likely to develop it themselves. This could be partly due to a genetic predisposition (nature) or influenced by the way they were raised (nurture).

woman with hands in hair

10. Therapy Is Very Effective In Treating Anxiety

Anxiety often starts in the mind and traps you in a cycle of debilitating thoughts. For this reason, treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy that teach new ways of thinking are very helpful to people struggling with anxiety.

11. Anxiety Causes Physical Symptoms

It makes sense that a mental illness causes mental difficulties like restlessness and trouble concentrating. However, not many people know that anxiety can also be the cause of physical symptoms that they experience, like headaches, nausea, and chest tightness.

12. Constantly Being Online Increases Anxiety

These days the Internet isn’t simply a fun pastime anymore. We spend most of our days online, whether it’s for work or browsing social media. When you’re used to constantly being online, FOMO can increase and lead to higher levels of anxiety.

woman with hand on chest

13. Anxiety Can Be Linked to Your Past

Anxiety isn’t always a reaction to a recent event. Often trauma experienced in childhood can surface years later in the form of anxiety.

14. Gut Health and Anxiety are Linked

Anxiety often causes digestive issues, and studies have been done about the connection between the brain and gut. There are many nerves in the stomach, and they communicate with the brain. So it makes sense that when your brain is anxious, it impacts the health of your gut bacteria.

15. Anxiety Increases the Risk of Other Health Problems

Chronic anxiety puts people more at risk for developing health complications like heart disease and gastrointestinal conditions. Research is still being done on the connection between anxiety and physical health, but it seems that the long-term increased stress levels impacts the heart, lungs, and immunity function.

woman with face in hands

16. There Is Medication for Anxiety

While therapy is always useful, sometimes your body needs some extra help. Your doctor can describe anti-anxiety medications or mood stabilizers to help treat an anxiety disorder. Just don’t expect a silver bullet, as medicine can take some time to work.

17. Very Few People Receive Treatment for Anxiety

Despite all the problems caused by anxiety and the effective treatments available, very few people receive professional help. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, less than 40% of the population receive treatment for their anxiety disorder.

18. Watching Movies Isn’t Always a Good Way to Relax

Binge-watching series over the weekend can sound like a great way to unwind. However, the intense emotions or dramatic problems playing out on screen are not always helpful for your anxiety levels. Monitor what you watch, for how long, and how it makes you feel.

stressed woman with laptop

19. Sleep Helps Keep Anxiety at Bay

While it may be hard to fall asleep when you’re feeling anxious, having a good sleep schedule can help you manage anxiety in the long term. Try to sleep a full 7-9 hours every night to reduce your anxiety levels.

20. Anxiety Disorders Were Only Recognized in the 1980s

Although anxiety had been around long before that time, the American Psychiatric Association only recognized the term ‘Anxiety Disorders’ in the 1980s. Before this, people were diagnosed simply with ‘nerves’ or ‘stress’.

21. Anxiety Can Make You More Forgetful

People struggling with anxiety often worry about future problems that might occur. This distracts them from the present and can cause them to forget things or appear like they’re not paying attention.

stressed woman in crowd

22. Exercise Can Help Lessen Anxiety

Whether it’s a light walk around the block or an intense workout, any form of exercise can help reduce anxiety levels. This is because physical activity releases chemicals in the brain that counters the stress hormones produced by anxiety.

23. People with Social Anxiety Actually Have Good Social Skills

Those with social anxiety often feel that they don’t fare well in social interactions. However, this type of anxiety causes you to be more sensitive to others’ feelings and pick up changes in facial expressions better. This leads to very considerate interactions and makes it pleasant for others to be around you.

24. Celebrities Deal with Anxiety Too

Scarlett Johansson and Emma Stone are only a few of the young actresses who shared that they have struggled with anxiety—even while they’re looking their best on the red carpet. They pave the way for others by acknowledging their problem and getting help in coping with anxiety.

seated woman with head in hands

25. Anxiety Can Cause Cold Feet and Hands

This is probably one of the lesser-known symptoms of anxiety. When we feel anxious, it triggers our body’s fight or flight response. Blood flow is redirected from your extremities to your vital organs, causing your hands and feet to feel cold.

26. Anxiety Can Confuse Your Sense of Smell

Another strange symptom is that anxiety can confuse the way things smell. Usually, only the olfactory system is involved in processing smells. But when you’re anxious, the emotional system gets involved too. This can lead to you labeling neutral smells as bad smells.

27. A Weighted Blanket Can Soothe Anxiety

When anxiety hits, it can help to curl up under a comfy weighted blanket. The added pressure helps us to enter a deeper sleep and also subconsciously makes us feel safe.

man with head in hands

28. Animals Can Also Suffer from Anxiety

According to researchers, pets and animals who live in captivity can also develop anxiety. This can happen when humans don’t provide the care or stimulation that these animals need. Interestingly, animals in the wild don’t have this issue, as they take care of their own needs and face natural problems.

29. Anxiety Makes Your Personal Bubble Bigger

Everyone has an invisible bubble of personal space around them, usually 7-15 inches from our face. If you struggle with anxiety, though, this zone determining how close you allow others is likely wider.

30. You Can Visualize Your Way Out of Anxiety

Since anxiety focuses on the negative, visualization is a helpful technique to reduce stress in certain situations. When you start feeling anxious, visualize yourself handling the task or situation in a calm manner and completing it with ease.

man shaking head

31. Covid Increased Worldwide Numbers of Anxiety

According to the World Health Organization, there was a 25% increase in cases of anxiety and depression across the world during the first year of the pandemic. If this global disaster has impacted your stress levels, know that you are not alone and that help is available to you.

32. Anger Is Also a Side Effect of Anxiety

While we often associate anxiety with feeling afraid or depressed, being angry is also a normal response. Anger is a way of expressing the powerlessness we feel in a situation we can’t control. Externalizing these feelings may seem easier than dealing with the turmoil in our inner world.

33. You Can Do Breathing Exercises to Reduce Anxiety

The way you breathe has an impact on your emotions. When you feel anxiety coming on and your breathing speeding up, try some deep breathing techniques to help you slow down and relax.

image of anxiety

34. Grief Can Trigger Anxiety

Therapists say that it is normal to experience anxiety after losing a loved one. We subconsciously start worrying about others who are close to us and feel anxious that something might happen to them too. As long as you acknowledge and process these feelings, they will eventually fade.

35. Reading Books Can Help Lower Anxiety Levels

Reading is a great way to get away from screens and lose yourself in another world. As long as you stay away from genres like thrillers and too many mystery books, reading can help reduce stress and anxiety.

black and white anxious woman

36. You Can Turn Performance Anxiety into Excitement

Performance anxiety is a common occurrence, and many people experience it over their lifetimes. Since anxiety and excitement affect your body in similar ways, therapists recommend a relabeling exercise. Telling yourself that you’re feeling excited instead of anxious can put you in a more positive mindset and help you deal with anxiety.

37. A Vitamin Boost Can Help with Anxiety

Vitamins and minerals are important for a healthy body—and for a healthy mind too! Since we don’t get enough of the good stuff from the food we eat, it helps to drink some supplements. Vitamin D and magnesium are especially helpful to those dealing with anxiety.

anxiety spelt out in scrabble letters

Final Thoughts About Anxiety

Whether you’re a concerned friend or someone dealing with their own anxiety, the most important fact to remember is that you are not alone. This collection of statistics, unexpected symptoms, and unique treatments go to show that anxiety is a worldwide phenomenon that many people are working to understand. Anxiety can be a part of life without keeping you from living to the fullest.

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