Occasional feelings of anxiousness are a universal experience that virtually everyone faces at one time or another. However, for some, anxiety is excessive and interferes with daily activities. When this is the case, a doctor may diagnose the individual with an anxiety disorder.
Although many who live with anxiety fear that they face it alone, the truth is that anxiety is a common disorder. Understanding anxiety stats is an important part of increasing public awareness and empowering those with this debilitating disorder to seek the help they need.
National Statistics on Anxiety
The following information provides an overview of how anxiety compares to other disorders, who is most likely to have this disorder, and what health care costs are associated with it.
How Anxiety Compares to Other Conditions
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, an international non-profit organization, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. Every year, about 40 million adults, or over 18 percent of the adult population, are affected. Anxiety is also prevalent among adolescents, with nearly 32 percent of those ages 13–18 living with this condition.
In comparison, mood disorders, a category that encompasses depression, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder, affect about 9.7 percent of U.S. adults annually. An estimated 21.4 percent of adults experience a mood disorder at some point in their lives, compared to the 31.1 percent of adults who experience an anxiety disorder during their lifetime.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
The National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) outlines five major types of anxiety disorders.
Generalized Anxiety Statistics
People with generalized anxiety disorder experience excessive worry or anxiety on most days for at least six months. GAD affects roughly 6.8 million (about 3.1 percent) adults in the United States. Unfortunately, only about 43 percent of adults with this disorder receive treatment. Women are nearly twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with GAD.
Panic Disorder Statistics
This anxiety disorder is characterized by repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms like heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and dizziness. About six million adults in the nation, or about 2.7 percent, live with panic disorder. Similar to GAD, women are about twice as likely as men to have this condition.
Social Anxiety Statistics
Social anxiety is among the most common types of anxiety, affecting nearly 7 percent of adults, or about 15 million people, in the United States. This disorder is equally common in males and females and typically begins around age 13. The ADAA reports that about 36 percent of people who seek professional help for this disorder only do so after experiencing symptoms for a decade or more.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Statistics
Obsessive-compulsive disorder affects about 1 percent of the population or 2.2 million adults in the United States. For most people, symptoms of this condition become evident around age 19, but one in four people begin seeing symptoms around age 14. As many as one in three adults first noticed symptoms of OCD during childhood.
Phobia-Related Disorder Statistics
A phobia is an intense fear or aversion to specific situations or objects. Common phobias include driving, being in a tight space, heights, or specific animals like dogs or spiders. Phobia-related disorders affect about 19 million adults or about 8.7 percent of the U.S. population. Symptoms generally begin during childhood, with the average person developing a phobia around age 7.
Anxiety and Early Death
Anxiety doesn’t directly lead to early death, but several studies have shown that untreated anxiety disorders may lead to conditions that cause early death. A study published in the British Medical Journal measured the death risk of 68,000 adults, ages 35 and over, between 1994 and 2004. Researchers concluded that those who lived with a mental health disorder died at a higher rate during that time frame than participants without a mental health disorder.
The more severe the mental health disorder, the more likely a person was to die of conditions like cancer or heart disease, as well as external circumstances like car accidents or injuries. Even people with mild symptoms of psychological distress were found to have a 20 percent greater risk of dying during that time frame compared to those without conditions like anxiety or depression. These statistics held even when researchers controlled for unhealthy behaviors that often go hand-in-hand with anxiety, including poor eating habits, inadequate sleep, and excessive use of drugs and alcohol.
Anxiety Treatment Statistics
Although anxiety is a highly treatable condition, only about 37 percent of people living with anxiety seek treatment. This is due to several factors, including social stigmas and a lack of accessible treatment options.
There are two treatments that several bodies of research have shown to be effective in treating anxiety disorders, including medication therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Up to 50 percent of people who use medications to treat symptoms experience relief from at least one symptom. About 60 percent of those who undergo CBT report substantial improvements in their anxiety symptoms.
Anxiety Statistics Worldwide
According to the World Health Organization, anxiety disorders are among the most prevalent mental disorders worldwide. An estimated 275 million people worldwide, or 4 percent of the worldwide population, live with an anxiety disorder. Phobia-related disorders are the most common, along with social anxiety and generalized anxiety.
In 2015, nearly a quarter of people with anxiety resided in South-East Asia, and about 21 percent resided in North and South America. 20 percent lived in the Western Pacific region, 14 percent in Europe, 12 percent in the Eastern Mediterranean region and 10 percent in Africa.
The full extent of anxiety disorders is likely to be significantly higher, as it tends to be under-recorded in both developed and developing nations. The WHO projects that between 76 and 85 percent of those who live with mental disorders in low-to-middle-income countries don’t receive adequate professional help. In high-income countries, between 35 and 50 percent of people who need mental health care services don’t receive them.
Demographics of Anxiety Diagnosis
In the United States, about 18 percent of adults had anxiety in the past year, and the lifetime rate is even higher at 32 percent. Anxiety disorders are most prevalent among adults ages 30–44, with about 22.7 percent in this age bracket living with a disorder. About 22.3 percent of adults ages 18–29 and about 20.6 percent of those aged 45–59 have anxiety. Anxiety is less common in older adults, only affecting about 9 percent of those aged 60 and over.
Women are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety than men. In the year surveyed, 23.4 percent of women experienced an anxiety disorder, versus 14.3 percent of men.
The Public Perception of Anxiety
The mental health treatment community has made significant strides in recent years towards increasing awareness of anxiety disorders and helping those who live with anxiety seek professional help. However, societal roadblocks to treatment still exist. Most people living with an anxiety disorder have, at some point, been blamed for their condition. Their symptoms have been dismissed as “a phase,” and many people have faced illegal discrimination with no recourse.
According to an online survey of more than 2,000 adult participants, young adults ages 18–25 have more accepting views of mental health care than other adults. About 65 percent indicated they believed they may have a mental health condition, and 60 percent of those in this demographic believed that seeing a mental health professional was a sign of strength. Over 52 percent recognized anxiety disorders as a risk factor for suicide.
While many young adults expressed concerns over universal accessibility to treatment, their survey responses are indicative of positive shifts in the public perception of anxiety and mental health care.
Health Care Costs of Anxiety
In recent years, treatment for anxiety has become considerably more affordable. The Affordable Care Act, which was passed in 2010, required that all major health insurance plans include coverage for mental health services, including treatment for conditions like anxiety. Some employers are prioritizing the treatment of mental illness, recognizing the correlation between conditions linked to anxiety and their effect on workers’ productivity.
Even with these measures, the cost of treating anxiety is a concern for some. Many health insurance policies have limited coverage for necessary mental health services, meaning that many individuals must cover treatments and medications out of pocket.
Anxiety Treatment at FHE Health
While anxiety disorders are prevalent and significantly impact the quality of life for those living with them, there are options for people seeking evidence-based treatment. FHE Health is dedicated to making quality anxiety treatment accessible to those who need it. Call us for help with anxiety or related questions, and we’ll point you in the direction of answers you can trust.