Here’s “Just the Facts,” a series where we scour Greatist’s archives for the most vital need-to-know nuggets on any given subject. It’s the no-noise info you gotta have, the way you gotta have it.
From sweaty palms and uneven breathing, to a bad night’s sleep, GI tract woes, and trouble concentrating, anxiety can manifest in very different ways. It can also sneak up on you suddenly, making you feel totally out of control.
While there are plenty of triggers in an unpredictable world, there are also an array of treatments and techniques to help burst the anxious thought bubbles.
So, take it easy as we unwind 30 facts about anxiety.
We like crunching numbers, but when it comes to anxiety, they (unfortunately) come at us pretty fast.
1. 40 million Americans currently have an anxiety disorder…
If your head is brimming with worries, it’s key to recognize you’re far from alone and there’s definitely nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about.
2. …Yet only 37 percent of people seek treatment
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, just over a third of those with anxiety seek professional help; meaning there are millions of people navigating their anxiety on their own.
3. The anxiety battle is fought near and far
As of 2019, more than 80 percent of the U.S. population has acknowledged battling some form of anxiety.
4. Women are twice as likely to experience anxiety
Sorry, gals: Even though you’re twice as awesome, you’re also twice as likely to experience anxiety than your male cohorts.
5. Turns out there’s a generation A (for anxiety)
Irrespective of culture, individuals under the age of 35 years are disproportionately more affected by anxiety disorders.
6. Anxiety and its friends don’t come cheap
The global cost of treating anxiety-related mental health disorders is anticipated to hit a mind-boggling $16 trillion within the next decade.
Anxiety is far from straightforward. But understanding the key triggers and symptoms can help you get a leg up on managing it.
7. Anxiety is a genetic hand-me-down
In addition to eye color and early baldness, genetics are also partially responsible for the propensity to experience anxiety.
8. Today’s anxiety doesn’t always stem from recent events
Traumas you’ve experienced in the past — perhaps a childhood loss or a particularly hideous breakup — can manifest as anxiety down the road.
9. Life sometimes gives us an unwanted side order of anxiety
As if you didn’t have enough on your plate, sometimes anxiety arises as part of a 2-for-1 deal with other existing medical concerns.
10. Binge-watching isn’t always as relaxing as you think
24/7 access to our binge-watch lists sounds great in theory, but watching for hours with no filters can lead to increased feelings of anxiety. So, monitoring our media intake can be a good balance-builder.
11. It helps to climb back down the social ladder periodically
Who knew that FOMO had so many layers? As we’re living in a time when people feel the need to constantly be online, our own doom scrolling is linked to higher levels of anxiety.
12. Anxiety can have sneaky symptoms
The sweaty palms and racing heartbeat are on-brand, but anxiety can cause other symptoms you might not have considered.
While anxious thoughts may be rattling around your head, there are plenty of physical approaches you can take to find your calm center.
13. Sleep covers everything from (a)nxiety to (Z)zz’s
Getting quality sleep is key to keeping anxiety at bay. However, feeling stressed can stop us from nodding off — making it one big vicious cycle. Try these techniques to ease you into the land of nod.
14. There’s a diet to help you lose anxiety
Believe it or not, there are foods that help ease symptoms of anxiety — while others might unknowingly make them worse. We’ve got the lowdown on the top worry-zapping foods and how they can help.
15. Moves lead to calmer moods
While curling up into a ball on the sofa may feel cathartic when anxious, good exercise actually releases plenty of stress-busting chemicals in your brain.
16. You can huff and puff and blow anxiety down
The way that you breathe can have a huge impact on your emotional state — including anxiety and stress. Breathe in these six techniques.
17. Anxiety is no match for a boost of natural energy
Ever heard of the Japanese practice of reiki? Essentially, you lie on a table (or sit in a chair) while a reiki teacher hovers their hands over your body, transferring restorative energy to you. Sceptical? So was this Greatist writer, until she found it significantly eased her persistent anxiety.
If working out isn’t your thing, you’ll be pleased to know there are anxiety treatments that involve less physical activity — many of which follow more traditional routes.
18. A problem shared…
…is a problem halved, which is why going to therapy is so. damn. great. It’s more than sitting on a chaise lounge in a darkened room, though. Here are some helpful approaches.
19. Freeing your mind of anxiety can also be cost-free
If the idea of paying for therapy gives you financial anxiety right now, don’t worry: There are plenty of free or affordable apps and services you can turn to for some personal TLC.
20. Actually taking a chill pill can help
As with other medication, anxiety meds are a viable option to rein in your thoughts. There are several medication brackets to choose from, so discuss with your doctor to see which could be the best fit.
21. Anxiety is treated 24 hours at nature’s pharmacy
We rely on supplements to help keep our bodies in tip-top condition, but many are just as effective in maintaining good mental well-being. From vitamin A to magnesium, Mother Nature’s got your back.
22. Deep thoughts can drown anxiety
Plenty of people turn to meditation to help them deal with stress, and for good reason. Research shows it’s one of the most effective ways to help lower anxiety levels.
23. Daydreaming anxiety away is a good strategy
Visualization is a simple but effective way to help distract your brain from worry. Turn negatives into positives, and picture handling your anxiety-inducing situation with calm.
Though the thought of doing something different could be anxiety-inducing, it can prove beneficial when it comes to making you feel better.
24. Designated worry time is quality time
It may sound somewhat counter-intuitive, but setting aside time during the day to worry may help to focus your anxiety and prevent it from buzzing around your mind all day.
25. Sex (of course) helps
Sex can act as a great anxiety reliever. Not only will focusing on your and your partner’s pleasure help take your mind off negative thoughts, but it also releases endorphins.
26. You can lie down and weight it out
A good weighted blanket doesn’t only help you get a better night’s sleep, the pressure it provides also aids in soothing your nervous system.
27. A lot of people are getting lost in books to find relief
Delving into other worlds is a great way to escape the worries of this one. Research shows just several minutes of getting lost in the pages of a book can lower stress by 60 percent. But maybe steer clear of Stephen King novels.
Although it often feels all-consuming, anxiety is just one part of a bigger mental health jigsaw puzzle.
28. Anxiety and depression are joined at the hip
Those diagnosed with anxiety disorders often experience symptoms of depression, and vice versa. Learn more about their connection.
29. It’s also a side effect of grief
Anxiety often rears its head after we’ve experienced grief. This writer shares their experience with both and assures that those in this position don’t have to feel alone.
30. Beating anxiety takes guts
Scientists have learned more about the relationship between imbalanced gut bacteria (eww) and anxiety.
In the interest of sparing you from info-overload anxiety, we’ll leave it there for now. But, if you’re feeling anxious, just remember not to be too hard on yourself. The world can be a scary place, but with the facts, you can have what it takes to manage it.
Chantelle Pattemore is a writer and editor based in London, UK. She focuses on lifestyle, travel, food, health, and fitness.