According to research, almost 25% of the entire population has already experienced or will experience anxiety at some point in life. If you belong to that percentage, then you know the crippling effects of anxiety. Although the term is used widely, there are still many people who know little about anxiety. We have listed some facts about anxiety, that you can use to understand what you, or someone you know, might be going through. Read on to learn 50 facts about anxiety.
Fact 1: Anxiety runs in the blood. If both of your parents have anxiety issues, then there’s a high chance that you will have them too.
- In a 2014 study, it was determined that there is a specific gene called ‘alpha-endo mannosidase’, that causes panic attacks and anxiety, this can be passed onto offspring.
- Nature is a big part of it too, as parents with anxiety are more likely to pass on anxious behaviours to their children.
Fact 2: You can physically feel the pain of anxiety.
- The pain is not imaginary, it is happening in your body, and what you are feeling is a sign that you need to do something.
- Having an anxiety attack will send a signal to your brain and will activate your fight or flight response. You might start to feel nauseous, because all of your upper body blood is being pumped into your legs, to allow you to run away, for example.
Fact 3: Doing any form of physical exercise can reduce the effects of anxiety.
- The best way to combat your fight or flight response is to be physically active.
- Since your brain is urging you to do something, exercise is a good place to start. Your brain will release neurochemicals, that fools your body into thinking that you are doing something to solve the situation.
Fact 4: You tend to smell bad things when you are suffering from anxiety.
- It has been recently established, that suffering from anxiety attacks can make you aware of potent smells, because this could be a sign of danger.
- It is because your brain’s chemical activity is confusing the processes done by your olfactory system.
Fact 5: People with anxiety tend to notice minute changes in facial expression, but they’re normally wrong in interpreting them.
- These people are incredibly observant of their environment, so they notice any slight changes, anything as small as someone’s facial expressions.
- However, since they are also emotional when having anxiety attacks, they tend to give a different meaning to these expressions. They often read someone’s expression and think the worst.
Fact 6: Eating unhealthy food is more likely give you heightened feelings of anxiety.
- According to the American Journal of Psychiatry, people with a more balanced diet eating vegetables, fruits, and grains, are less likely to have anxiety.
- However, having an unhealthy lifestyle like drinking alcohol, eating fatty food, and junk food can also affect your body and brain chemistry.
Fact 7: Anxiety will widen your personal space requirement.
- A normal person needs 20-40cm as his/her ‘personal space’. Closer than that and people step back because they feel uncomfortable.
- However, having anxiety can increase this requirement to twice or thrice times, as they often don’t want to be near other people. If you connect this to Fact 5, it makes sense, because they might read situations incorrectly.
Fact 8: To combat performance anxiety, you just need to rethink what you’re feeling as ‘excitement’ not ‘fear’.
- This was found by Harvard Business School.
- Both anxiety and excitement have the same physical effect on us, therefore, by choosing the latter perception, you’ll be given a more positive mental state when performing.
Fact 9: While anxiety will make you feel like a ‘loser’, your friends actually think the opposite: that you are fab!
- People with anxiety often feel like people don’t like them as much.
- According to studies, it is the opposite. People with anxiety are well-liked, because they are very careful with their actions, and thoughtful too.
Fact 10: Anxiety is not just having nerves or anxiousness over something, it is the excessive feeling of fear.
- It means that you can blow anything out of proportion. You have an unexplainable excessive fear about something, which isn’t always clear to those around you, they won’t see the same as you.
- Often, this feeling can interfere with your job, or the way you treat your family and friends, or even your daily activities.
Fact 11: If you have depression, there’s a 50% chance that you are experiencing anxiety effects as well.
- According to an American study focusing on depressed patients, 50% of these patients were also suffering from anxiety effects too.
- But, it doesn’t mean that having anxiety can lead to depression. They are different mental illnesses.
Fact 12: People from poorer countries are less likely to have anxiety.
- Nobody knows why for definite, but it could be because of their lifestyles, or their experiences growing up. Generally it is thought that people from poorer countries have a better reaction to fear.
- In fact, the US, one of the richest countries in the world, is one of the most anxious countries.
Fact 13: Having a phobia, is a form of anxiety. It is the most commonly depicted type of anxiety.
- Having a phobia is having an irrational fear over something. You just can’t explain why.
- Other types of anxiety include, post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Fact 14: Anxiety has a huge economic weight, costing as much as $42 billion per year in the USA.
- In the US, this amount is being used to diagnose patients of anxiety and treating them.
- It takes up almost a ⅓ of the total budget for the US mental health services.
Fact 15: People with anxiety tend to sway more. And no, they’re not drunk or medicated.
- Anxiety can affect a person’s balance, because of all the intense mental activities happening in their brain.
- It can be quite difficult to explain why someone suffering with anxiety is swaying to an outsider, as there are no physical clues to go by. People jump to conclusions and assume the worst.
Fact 16: Meditation has been proven to lessen the frequency of anxiety attacks.
- Meditation helps to calm your brain and to provide you with a deeper sense of who you are.
- Of all the meditation techniques, it was found out that ‘Transcendental Meditation’ is the best way to relieve anxiety.
Fact 17: Anxiety can cause people to act irrationally and ruin their lifelong relationships.
- It doesn’t matter what kind of relationship it is, people with anxiety unintentionally, ruin their relationships with others. Often communication breaks down and people don’t understand what’s going on.
- Another reason is, because those who suffer from anxiety are quick to judge people, and feel that they are being judged too. It’s often the case that people want to help the person suffering out, but it doesn’t always come across that way, so feuds happen.
Fact 18: Being shy around people is a sign of anxiety, but it doesn’t mean that all shy people have anxiety.
- Being shy, coupled with irritation, and the constant need to get away are signs of having anxiety.
- Some people keep it to themselves, and in some cases it takes them more than 10 years to seek help.
Fact 19: Other forms of anxiety, like OCD, are observed and diagnosed as early as 4-5 years of age in some kids.
- ⅓ of the adults suffering from OCD, were diagnosed when they were still children.
- Early diagnosis helps a lot in treating anxiety, as experts can combine different approaches to ensure long-lasting effects.
Fact 20: 1 out of 8 children are experiencing anxiety in the United States.
- Upbringing is sometimes the cause, as environments, and who’s in it, effect greatly. This fact is even more so for young children, as kids will look at older people for support.
- These children suffer from several negative effects such as poor performance academically, missing important events, and getting into substance abuse.
Fact 21: Anxiety is the no.1 mental illness in the United States.
- It accounts for 18% of the general population. This number only reflects the diagnosed patients.
- Experts believe that the number is much worse, as more than half of those suffering from anxiety do not seek any help at all.
Fact 22: It is also the no.1 mental illness in Australia.
- From an estimate by experts, 45% of Australians are already/ will be experiencing anxiety soon.
- Based on their records, there are 2 million cases of anxiety yearly, 1 million more than depression.
Fact 23: Anxiety is highly treatable and manageable but only ⅔ are seeking any type of treatment.
- It’s much worse for teenagers as only 1 out of 5 seek help.
- It’s comparable to depression, not everyone experiencing depression seeks help either.
Fact 24: Women are more likely to have anxiety than men.
- Based on statistics, the number of women experiencing anxiety is 2x as much, compared to men.
- It is because they are more emotionally charged. When faced with more pressurised environments, they might, although not everyone(!), be overwhelmed and feel varying degrees of fear.
Fact 25: According to studies, anxious people generally have a higher IQ.
- According to the SUNY Medical Centre in New York, those with anxiety have better logical, and analytical capabilities.
- But it does not state that all smart people are experiencing anxiety.
Fact 26: Soldiers are not the only people experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
- While we hear it mostly from soldiers, it is prevalent to those who were victims of abuse, rape, and domestic violence.
- Some who experience PTSD are survivors of calamities, accidents and other natural disasters.
Fact 27: Male rape survivors are more likely to suffer PTSD than women.
- 65% of men who had experienced sexual assault or rape, were most to likely display symptoms of PTSD.
- It’s almost 20% less for women survivors.
Fact 28: People suffering from OCD are more likely to suffer from other mental illnesses too.
- It has been observed that OCD patients have the compulsion to start fires, known as ‘Pyromania’.
- Although the number is not significant yet, the number of OCD patients suffering from ‘Trichotillomania’, or the compulsion to pull hair, is increasing.
Fact 29: There are so many treatments available to cure anxiety, making this mental illness one of the most treatable ever.
- The traditional cures for anxiety include talking therapies and coping strategy therapies.
- Alternative cures, that can be combined with the above treatments are, yoga, acupuncture and meditation.
Fact 30: Worrying is a part of life, so don’t think that you have anxiety unless you worry about something excessively.
- By definition, anxiety is ‘the excessive worrying about something that happened or will happen to you’.
- It is usually measured by how long you think about something. If it lasts for more than an hour, and you do this all the time, then you should seek help.
Fact 31: Anxiety can also cause other physical illness.
- Doctors hypothesize that the mind and body are connected in some way, 1 feels the effects of the other.
- Based on the available data, those with anxiety are most likely suffering from other chronic health conditions such as, heart and kidney problems.
Fact 32: People with anxiety do not just need attention, they need actual help.
- Most people are easy to think that people experiencing anxiety attacks are just desperate for attention.
- It’s the reverse actually when people are having anxiety attacks, sometimes the attention they are getting is just worsening what they’re feeling.
Fact 33: As mentioned in Fact 13, ‘phobia’ is the most common type of anxiety disorder.
- In the US, 8.7% of the population has some form of phobia.
- The next disorder under anxiety is, ‘Social Anxiety’ with 6.8% of the population affected by this.
Fact 34: Having anxiety is not just experiencing bad things, for some, it actually motivates them to do better.
- While excessive worrying can be detrimental, for some, it helps them to be more prepared for negative future events.
- By knowing the different scenarios that could happen, some people are turning their anxieties into ‘productive preparation techniques’. Basically, by knowing the negative effect that could happen, they can prepare, so when it does happen, it isn’t actually as bad as it could be.
Fact 35: Having anxiety is sometimes living in a memory loop.
- If you are curious about how a person with anxiety thinks, just think about what you did in the morning and replay it 100x.
- Just think of some things that you could have done, or didn’t do. Answer your ‘what if’s’ and picture the same situation over and over, continuously finding flaws.
Fact 36: Getting a Swedish Massage can help relieve anxiety.
- Based on a study, getting a Swedish massage twice a month can lessen the effects of anxiety.
- Not only does it relax your body, but it also relieves some pressures that you are feeling, the same way acupuncture helps in treating anxiety.
Fact 37: If you know a person is having an anxiety attack, hug him or her tight.
- Hugging has been scientifically proven to affect the mood of a person receiving the hug.
- It improves blood circulation, and puts the person in a more positive emotional state.
Fact 38: Sleeping for 7 to 9 hours a day can also help in combating anxiety.
- Sleeping, together with adopting a healthy lifestyle, has been very helpful in combating different forms of anxiety.
- Because your brain is getting enough rest, it is more receptive of the medication and therapy, which can lead to faster treatment.
Fact 39: If you know someone who has anxiety you should form a support group.
- Having a close and friendly circle can help someone experiencing anxiety heal.
- By constantly reassuring the person that he or she matters, and that no one is judging him or her, will help in his or her journey to healing.
Fact 40: Anxiety is a huge, lying voice in the head.
- Having anxiety is like having a person behind you whispering things to you that aren’t true.
- Every day, people with anxiety have to deal with ‘that voice’ in their head. That’s why they tend to be more reserved, and sceptical of people around them.
Fact 41: You can help someone with anxiety by being extra nice to them.
- It can be very challenging to deal with a person with anxiety, because he or she can be quite emotional and illogical.
- However, by knowing that it’s just an illness, you can help by assuring him or her that things will get better. And by not taking things personally.
Fact 42: Opioid addiction can increase the risk of having anxiety.
- 16% of opioid addicts in the United States are also suffering from anxiety.
- It’s much worse internationally. 29% is the highest record for opioid addiction combined with anxiety.
Fact 43: A staggering 37% or more than ⅓ of online gambling addicts are diagnosed with anxiety.
- Internet gambling addicts are likely to suffer because they spend a lot of time alone, in isolation, so there’s a really good chance that the ‘little voice’ in their head is going to be a huge companion.
- It also makes sense because these activities do not require any physical interaction, and they are likely to know that these activities aren’t always going to end well.
Fact 44: Vincent Van Gogh, a well known post-impressionist painter, was known to suffer from anxiety and other mental illness.
- Most of his works were done while he was suffering from this illness in a psychiatric institution.
- His ordeal was well documented through the letters he had written, addressed to his brother, detailing some of his mental episodes.
Fact 45: Eminem, a well-known rapper, has also battled anxiety for many years.
- In a 2013 interview, he revealed how he suffered from anxiety through most of his young life, even after he got famous.
- He attributed it to excessive drinking, and because things in his life were happening so fast, that it was a bit hard for him to keep up.
Fact 46: Anxiety pushes us to do the things we used to do in the past, even if they’re bad or unhealthy for us.
- Anxiety triggers our fight or flight response, which is why it triggers the past actions that we used to do.
- These actions, in the past, either made us happy or helped us get out of a tricky situation. This explains why some people with anxiety are addicted to something.
Fact 47: People with non-chronic diseases are also susceptible to anxiety.
- For example, 55% of women who have diabetes also have anxiety.
- It could be because of the excessive worrying, caused by knowing that diabetes can’t be completely cured.
Fact 48: Be extra sensitive to pregnant women, they are also very susceptible to having anxiety.
- While postpartum depression is the most common illness of new Mothers, having OCD while being pregnant is also becoming more and more common.
- 2.5% of pregnant women are suffering from OCD.
Fact 49: Vulnerable groups are more likely to have anxiety.
- Vulnerable groups include, homosexuals.
- This could be attributed to the struggles they have to face in their daily lives.
Fact 50: Anxiety prohibits the growth of new cells.
- Neogenesis, or the production of new cells, is necessary to achieve optimal brain function and for having great mental health.
- However, due to the chemical imbalances experienced by people with anxiety, it affects the production of new cells.