Chances are, we all know someone (or many) who struggle with anxiety. That’s because anxiety is currently surging in America—an escalation that began in the 1930s and has picked up its pace since then. And the disorder affects all age groups and walks of life:
- Anxiety Attacks Adolescents: According to data extracted from the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMI) given to high school and college students since the 1930s, anxiety levels have been steadily increasing among young people. The Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State reports that anxiety has outranked depression as the most commonly diagnosed health disorder among college students, with 50% of students feeling anxious.
- Anxiety Attacks Adults: The rise in anxiety isn’t just relegated to the younger generations. The 2015 Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (CBHSQ) report estimates that 4.3 million adults employed fulltime have had an anxiety disorder in the past year…and that rates of anxiety surpass cancer rates by 800%! Data from the National Institute of Mental Health seconds those findings with an estimate of 40 million, or 18%, of adults age 18 or older, suffering from anxiety.
- Anxiety Attacks Globally: And anxiety isn’t just impacting Americans. Global rates of anxiety are increasing as well. A recent examination of 3 year’s worth of data from the global Employee Assistance Program (EAD) showed that more employees than ever are reaching out for help for significant and severe mental health issues.
Causes of Anxiety
A cocktail of circumstances can cause anxiety: life situations, genetics, brain chemistry, nutritional deficiencies, personality proclivities, and, of course, stress. It’s natural to react to stressful circumstances with anxiety, but when anxiety becomes chronic and overwhelming your body and mind’s innate response becomes a threat to your quality of life and your health, especially when it
moves into “disorder” status— generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, and panic disorder.
Nutrition plays a huge role, as well—both as a cause and a prevention strategy. For instance, not getting enough magnesium, vitamin D, or omega-3 in your diet can increase your tendency toward anxiety. A 2011 study published in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity showed that when medical students supplemented with a high-quality omega-3, anxiety levels declined by 20%. Artificial sweeteners, food dyes and additives, GMOs, glyphosate, and overindulgent intake of sugar or junk food can likewise tilt the balance in favor of anxiety.
Recent research shows that gut health is inextricably tied to your mood. A gut that’s imbalanced in microflora, meaning there are more bad bacteria than good bacteria living in your gastrointestinal tract, has been shown to contribute to mood disorders. You can support a healthy gut by eating fermented foods such as kimchi and tempeh, and taking a premium probiotic supplement.
Finally, environmental factors such as cell phones, radiofrequencies, and nonnative electromagnetic fields can exert an influence on your mental health and ability to sustain stress. If you feel your anxiety increasing, then step away from your cell phone and other electronics and engage in wellbeing practices such as meditation.
Emotional Freedom Technique
A well-balanced diet can help with long-term anxiety management, but there are some short-term wellness practices you can implement as well. Many people experience anxiety relief using Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), a type of tapping acupressure that can help ease mental strain. Breathing exercises, such as abdominal breathing or alternate nostril breathing, can also help still anxiety. If your anxiety continues, experts recommend talk therapy and one-on-one counseling to complement the wellness practices of your choice.