• Give a Gift
  • Customer Service
  • Promotions
  • Videos
  • Blogs
  • Win
  • Games

February 18, 2008

The United States of Anxiety

It's the most common mental illness in America. One worrywart stares down her (and our) tendency to fret.

Share
Women Who Hit

Photo Credit: Katja Govorushchenko/iStock

Special Offer

YOU LOOK WORRIED. Actually, much of the country does — anxiety disorders affect nearly 40 million Americans. Author Patricia Pearson explores our national epidemic in her new book, A Brief History of Anxiety (Yours and Mine). "It's an unnerving time to be alive," she says. "Everyone's worried about their jobs, never mind this climate-change stuff." Pearson pored over studies and mined her own experiences to offer an enlightening and very funny look at the panicky condition that's mostly in our heads. A few highlights:

ANXIETY IS BIG BUSINESS. Three of the top-10-selling drugs are for mental illness. "I'm not going to be Tom Cruise and say, 'Take niacin,'" says Pearson. "But first we should examine the source of the anxiety, talk with a therapist, or join a yoga class. Instead, as pharmaceutical companies take advantage of our tricky times, these drugs are massively overprescribed."

THE MEDIA DON'T HELP. In the late '80s, there was a huge jump in fear about violent crime, Pearson says. "In response, gated communities started popping up all over the country. But statistics showed the threat hadn't risen in correspondence with the fear." Today, 24-hour news outlets obsess over "the guy whose foot was severed on a roller coaster. What about all of those people who didn't lose a foot today?" she asks.

NEITHER DOES THE GOVERNMENT. Anxiety is often spurred by the feeling that life is out of our control, upending our "fantasy that fate is in our hands," as one therapist told Pearson. When something bad happens in our country, officials start pointing fingers and calling for inquests to try to regain that sense of control, which perpetuates the fantasy. "We have this war on 'terror,' which is just vague," says Pearson. "And we have politicians who manipulate our anxiety levels with color-coding. We need to understand it's not our fault. We need to talk about what society is doing to us."

BY THE NUMBERS:
28.8% of Americans will suffer anxiety in their lifetime — the highest level in the world.

$42 billion is spent annually in the U.S. on anxiety disorders.

$22.8 billion of that goes to addressing anxiety symptoms that mimic physical illnesses.

12.7 million women suffer from phobias, the most common form of anxiety.


Share
Connect with Marie Claire:
Advertisement
horoscopes
daily giveaway
One (1) winner will receive a year’s supply of makeup products from L’Oréal Paris (ARV: $188) and a year’s supply of hair products from L’Oréal Paris (ARV: $108).

One (1) winner will receive a year’s supply of makeup products from L’Oréal Paris (ARV: $188) and a year’s supply of hair products from L’Oréal Paris (ARV: $108).

enter now
You Know You Want More

more from World News on Women

This Act Could Put an End to Anti-Abortion Legislation

Women's right to choose is constantly at stake—but this might the solution.

Yet Another Blow to Birth Control Coverage

The Supreme Court's latest decision will limit a key benefit for women.

post a comment

Special Offer
Link Your Marie Claire Account to Facebook
Welcome!

Marie Claire already has an account with this email address. Link your account to use Facebook to sign in to Marie Claire. To insure we protect your account, please fill in your password below.

Forgot Password?

Thanks for Joining

Your information has been saved and an account has been created for you giving you full access to everything marieclaire.com and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your username and/or password or complete your profile, click here.

Continue
Your accounts are now linked

You now have full access to everything Marie Claire and Hearst Digital Media Network have to offer. To change your settings or profile, click here.

Continue