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A look at anxiety around the world


A Look at Stress Around the World

Stress is a growing problem all over the world, and especially in developed or developing countries. Modern lifestyles offer some improvements in terms of health care and medicine, but they also present challenges when it comes to mental health. Globally, around 260 million individuals suffer from anxiety-related disorders.1 Additionally, mental health disorders like anxiety and depression cost the economy around one trillion dollars each year.2 While mental health is a growing issue, only one percent of the world's health workforce is employed in a mental health-related area.3 Society has a long way to go before global mental health understanding and treatment can be considered fair, equal, and comprehensive.

Stress Around the World

Anxiety is common around the world, but there do appear to be different levels of prevalence in different countries. If the infrastructure, work-life balance, and environment in each of those countries are examined closer, it can become easier to understand why these differences exist.



Over any given 12 month period, around 14 percent of Australians experience some form of anxiety-related disorder. Substance abuse is common, and the age group that is most likely to have mental health-related issues is 18–24 year olds. Rates of anxiety in Australia, however, are higher than those for depression, drug abuse, or alcohol abuse. Women are more likely than men to use services for help with anxiety disorders.4 Aboriginals are just as likely as those who live in cities to experience stress and anxiety, although there is evidence to suggest that the people who live in cities are more likely to seek help for their condition.

United Kingdomanxiety

Anxiety is common in the U.K., with one in six adults self-reporting that they had experienced some form of an anxiety-related issue in the last week. More than ten percent of adults are likely to experience some form of “disabling anxiety disorder” at some point in their life, and 13 percent of adults will experience a phobia in their lifetime. Approximately three percent of individuals will experience some form of obsessive-compulsive disorder.5 In the U.K., anxiety is more common in cities than in rural areas, and it is thought that this could be due to the fact that the increased population density in cities contributes to chronic stress, which can trigger anxiety. In addition, the constructed, artificial environments of the city can be stress-inducing in their own way, while environments in rural areas promote relaxation because of the abundance of nature they contain.

anxietyUnited States

Anxiety disorders are also the most common in the United States, with 40 million adults, or 18.1 percent of the population, suffering from them. This is a higher rate of prevalence than those measured in the U.K. and Australia. While anxiety disorders are rather common, only 36.9 percent of individuals suffering from anxiety seek treatment.6 The rates of anxiety in the U.S. differs from state to state, which suggests that lifestyle and cultural factors could influence anxiety rates. There are many state-specific factors that contribute towards general stress: working hours, population density, unemployment rates, housing costs, health insurance, and even the daily commute. Florida is considered to be the most “stressed out” state, with Georgia and New Jersey also at the top of the list.7 Stress, by itself, is not abnormal or even necessarily dangerous as long as it lasts for a short period of time and the stressed individuals take actions to relieve the effects of the stressor. However, when stress becomes chronic, issues pop up, as chronic stress can eventually result in anxiety.


One study of mental health in Sweden found that 14.7 percent of adults surveyed suffered from clinically-significant anxiety.8 This is slightly above the worldwide average, but lower than the rate observed in the United States. Additionally, it was found that there was a comorbidity between depression and anxiety, but the study's sample size was not sufficient to draw conclusions about the correlation between lifestyle factors and these conditions. This case study is interested because Sweden is known for its high quality of life in terms of working hours, reasonable taxes, and low crime rates, yet anxiety still appears to be a significant issue.



A study of generalized anxiety disorder in Germany conducted in 2002 showed a 12-month prevalence of less than two percent and depression rates of less than 10 percent.9 It is difficult to find more recent studies that cover the whole population, but more modern studies that focus on specific groups show that while anxiety rates are increasing, though the rate remains lower than in many other countries. One possible reason for this is that Germany turned towards a community-focused paradigm for mental health care during the 1970s, which could perhaps mean that individuals have better support when they are simply experiencing stress and burnout, before the onset of anxiety.10


It is difficult for researchers to gather information about the prevalence of anxiety disorders in India because of cultural influences. However, the concept of mental disorders have appeared in ancient Indian texts, dating as far back as 5,000 BCE. There are some detailed accounts of generalized anxiety disorder written in Srimad Bhagavatam, an epic written around 400 BCE. The challenge that Indian mental health professionals and researchers face is that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM) was written for Western culture, and it wasn't until the fourth edition was published in the mid-1990s that the DSM started to take into account culture-bound disorders. India makes a good case study for anxiety disorders because of a wide disparity in living conditions, with some areas being developed and others remaining quite rural. Urban communities in India have much higher rates of anxiety disorders than their rural counterparts, with a prevalence of 35.7 percent in urban areas, compared to just 13.9 in rural areas.11

Mix the Old with the New

Perhaps grandparents are on to something when they say that everything was better in the olden days. Certainly, more and more individuals are looking back in time, even past the generation of grandparents, to seek resolutions for mental health disorders. The Paleo Air movement is one relatively modern idea that takes the idea of looking back to the lifestyle of human ancestors to improve health and well-being in the modern. This theory is an extension of the idea of “sick building syndrome,” the theory that the city environment, especially the air in cities, has negative health consequences. The idea of Paleo Air proposes that perhaps by improving the air humans breathe, they can improve their overall health. Breathing Paleo Air means breathing air that parallels the air breathed by humans during the Paleolithic era, which was high in secondary metabolites, especially terpenes. In fact, studies show that forest bathing, which involves spending time in nature, can help reduce inflammation, alleviate stress, and help boost mood and well-being overall.12 forest bathing with MONQ

How To Breathe Paleo Air

Of course, in modern society, it is often difficult to find time to go out into the forest. However, it may not always be necessary to go into the forest to enjoy fresh, terpene-rich air and promote personal relaxation and well-being. Alternatively, spend time outside at lunchtime if possible or try to take vacations to places where there is plenty. Most importantly, take time out for self-care practices such as enjoying a warm bath with a few drops of essential oils and the lights turned down. Efforts to improve mental and physical health on an individual and social level have the potential to lower these anxiety statistics, as well as a range of other health issues, around the world. Though it is difficult and time-consuming to change the quality of air in whole cities, incorporating Paleo Air into your lifestyle can allow you to experience the conveniences of modern city life without many of the negative health consequences.

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