Anxiety — it’s more common than you think


Last summer I started to work on a project that I hastily named Pocketcoach; the goal was to help people who struggle with excessive worrying and anxiety. It’s a topic that’s really close to my heart. I knew how deeply it can affect people and I myself have a tendency to overthink and procrastinate when I’m challenged.

But what I didn’t know was how widespread anxiety really is. I mean, I’ve heard the numbers before but I never really stopped to think what they actually mean: The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that in the US alone about 40 million adults suffer from what psychologists would call ‘anxiety disorders’.

And it’s likely that this number greatly underestimates the real impact of anxiety. More realistic, current estimates put the number close to 100 million people (Many cases simply go unnoticed because the stigma and high cost deter people from seeking help. Many others don’t even know their issues are related to anxiety)

But there’s a paradox. Even though anxiety is surprisingly common, for most of us it feels deeply isolating. Anxiety leaves us feeling as if we’re the only person in the world who struggles like this. Reality, though, tells a different story. Anxiety is unbelievably common.

And that’s the reason why many therapies have been developed to help with anxiety. Today, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy are well-researched and widely used. They are usually taught by a professional therapist, but recently it has also been taken online.

There might not be enough therapists for everyone with anxiety, but everybody can get help. There are online courses and apps to help you build coping skills. And of course, there’s the traditional self-help book. Non of these are guaranteed to work and anxiety usually doesn’t go away completely. But there’s always hope. And many people who care (even if it doesn’t feel that way).