Anxiety By the Numbers

Stats by age, gender, and more

All of us have felt anxiety at one time or another, whether it be before a big test or public speaking. However, some people experience anxiety more than others. Mine developed with a cancer diagnosis.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is the body’s response to worry and fear. Anxiety is only an indicator of underlying disease when feelings become excessive, all-consuming, and interfere with daily living.

There is a multitude of anxiety disorders that cause anxiety, worry, and stress due to social interactions, personal health, work, or a particular phobia. Types of anxiety disorders include panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, agoraphobia (the fear of places that might cause feelings of anxiety), specific phobia, social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and separation anxiety disorder.

How common is anxiety?

  • In a 2020 survey, 62% of respondents reported experiencing some degree of anxiety. (SingleCare)

  • An estimated 31% of all adults will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their life. (Anxiety and Depression Association of America)

  • An estimated 19.1% of adults in America had an anxiety disorder as of 2001–2003. (Harvard Medical School)

  • Anxiety disorders are more prevalent in women than in men in the United States and around the world. (National Institute of Mental Health)

  • Specific phobias are the most commonly occurring anxiety disorder, affecting more than 19 million adults in the U.S. (Anxiety and Depression Association of America)

Anxiety statistics by age

The following statistics are specific to people in the U.S.:

  • Nearly one-third (31.9%) of adolescents (ages 13–18) had an anxiety disorder. Of these adolescents, the 17- to 18-year-old age group was most affected. (Archives of General Psychiatry)

  • Generalized anxiety was found to affect twice as many adults ages 26 to 49 when compared to the 50 or older age group. (SAMHSA)

  • 30- to 44-year-olds were most affected by anxiety disorders

  • 22.3% of 18- to 29-year-olds and 20.6% of 45- to 59-year olds. (NIMH)

  • 60-year-olds and older were the least affected age group. (NIMH)

  • Of adolescents with any anxiety disorder, an estimated 8.3% had severe impairment. (NIMH)

  • The prevalence of any anxiety disorder among adolescents was higher for females (38.0%) than for males (26.1%).

  • The prevalence of any anxiety disorder was similar across age groups.

Anxiety statistics in the United States

The following statistics are specific to adults in the U.S.:

Women are more likely to be affected by anxiety than men. In some disorders, such as generalized anxiety, women are twice as likely to have it as men.

  • Anxiety is the most common mental disorder in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults. (ADAA)

  • The prevalence by state of mental illness ranges from the lowest in Florida (16.03%) to the highest (22.66%) in Oregon. (Mental Health America)

  • The majority of adults with anxiety have a mild impairment (43.5%), 33.7% have a moderate impairment, and 22.8% have a serious impairment. (NIMH)

  • Nearly half (47%) of survey respondents experience anxiety regularly. (SingleCare)

  • 19 million adults experience specific phobias, making it the most common anxiety disorder in America. (ADAA)

  • 15 million adults have social anxiety. (ADAA)

  • 7.7 million adults have PTSD. (ADAA)

  • 6.8 million adults have generalized anxiety. (ADAA, 2020)

  • 6 million adults have panic disorders. (ADAA, 2020)

Anxiety is as common among older adults as among the young. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is the most common anxiety disorder among older adults, though anxiety disorders in this population are frequently associated with traumatic events.

Facts About Anxiety

Stress Everyone experiences stress and anxiety at one time or another. The difference between them is that stress is a response to a threat in a situation. Anxiety is a reaction to stress.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) PTSD affects 7.7 million adults,3.5% of the U.S. population. Women are more likely to be affected than men.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) GAD affects 6.8 million adults, 3.1% of the U.S. population, yet only 43.2% are receiving treatment. Women are twice as likely to be affected as men. GAD often co-occurs with major depression.

Panic Disorder (PD) PD affects 6 million adults, 2.7% of the U.S. population. Women are twice as likely to be affected as men.

Social Anxiety Disorder SAD affects 15 million adults, 6.8% of the U.S. population. SAD is equally common among men and women and typically begins around age 13.

Specific Phobias Specific phobias affect 19 million adults,8.7% of the U.S. population. Women are twice as likely to be affected as men. Symptoms typically begin in childhood; the average age of onset is 7 years old.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) OCD affects 2.2 million adults,1.0% of the U.S. population. OCD is equally common among men and women. The average age of onset is 19, with 25 percent of cases occurring by age 14. One-third of affected adults first experienced symptoms in childhood.

In 2021, 7.3% of people in the world had an anxiety disorder, according to a systematic review published in the journal Psychological Medicine. The World Health Organization also supports this statistic, as it claims 1 in 13 people have anxiety.

Why is anxiety so common now?

There is no one answer to why anxiety is more common now. It could be due to the decrease in the stigma surrounding mental health issues with more people seeking treatment. Other options are the pandemic, poor sleeping or diet habits, or even the increase in social media use putting anxiety disorders on the rise.

Treatments for Anxiety

Talk to your family doctor or mental health professional. Several options are available including therapy, counseling, medications, as well as non-medical alternatives like yoga and meditation.

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