Anxiety disorders are rare.
Holy Cow! This is definitely false. According to NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) anxiety disorders are one of the highest reported categories of mental disorders, with a lifetime prevalence rate of 28.8% (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/statistics/1anyanx_adult.shtml).
Every therapist has their own unique population, so personal observations have a natural bias, but when I look at the anecdotal evidence from my professional and personal life I also see what I believe is an increase in anxiety issues. Why? I believe there are many reasons for a high rate of anxiety disorders, but I believe the primary culprit is a societal obsession with tragedy resulting in an inaccurate perception of fear and danger.
While there has always been danger in our world, we have historically been isolated from the events by distance and time. Direct experience of traumatic or overwhelming life events use to be limited to our own lives…in other words, you had to be there to experience it. Newspapers use to bring stories of tragedies to our lives days and sometimes even weeks after their occurrence. News reels from the battle fields of WWII brought live action to our theaters, but long after the battles had been fought. During the late 1960s, the evening news brought full color horrors of the Vietnam War to our living rooms, and the sanctuary of the home was lost. Fast forward to 2014, there is no sanctuary from live coverage from every tragic action taking place around the world. We have several 24-hour news channels available via cable or satellite TV, and an endless number of Internet news providers that we can watch from our smart phones and tablet devices. Finally, with approximately 20% of the worlds population carrying a smartphone wherever they go, we are exposed to first-person experiences of every bad thing happening in the world on YouTube.
When we watch the never ending parade of tragedies from around the world, it is easy to begin personalizing the experiences and borrowing other people’s traumas. When we do this enough we experience vicarious trauma, often with many of the symptoms as if it was our trauma in the first place.
While anxiety disorder are not uncommon, we can pay attention to how much we expose ourselves to other people’s trauma.
Below is an info-graphic that you can share through social media to help dispel the myths of anxiety disorder.