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Britain has experienced an’explosion’ of anxiety since 2008, study results | Social



The financial crisis, austerity, Brexit, climate change and social media criticism have led to an explosion of unrest in the UK over the past decade.

Debilitating mental disorders tripled among young adults, affecting 30% of women aged 18 to 24, and an overall increase among men and women under the age of 55.

The findings emerged from one of the largest anxiety studies conducted in the UK over the years, analyzing 6.6 million patients in 795 clinics across the UK, examining the diagnosis and treatment trends in GPs since 1998.

The analysis found that lead researcher Nick Freemantle experienced a massive increase in 2008, an increase in serious anxiety, when the global collapse caused by bad bank lending in 2008 triggered massive unemployment and financial instability.

Given the rapid increase in anxiety and the number of people affected by this study, it is now clear that the UK has a really serious and exacerbating problem with anxiety that can have a devastating effect on people’s lives. And these data were stopped shortly before the Covid-19 pandemic. We can only guess what they will look like now.

In 2008, 8.42% of women aged 18 to 24 were anxious, and in 2018 it more than tripled to 30.33%. In women aged 25 to 34, anxiety more than doubled from 9.08% to 21.69%. , The rate of increase in women aged 35 to 44 and 45 to 54 was small.

The incidence of anxiety in young and middle-aged men followed the same trajectory, although fewer people were diagnosed at the beginning of the study period, but the gender gap did not close. Generalized anxiety disorder more than tripled from 4.95% to 14.88% for men aged 18 to 24 years old, from 9.08% to 21.69% for men aged 25 to 34 years, and less increased between 35 and 54 years old.

The rate of anxiety has increased slightly compared to 1998. But in 2008, this explosion happened suddenly in absolute numbers and especially in women, especially young women. When the increase went through the roof, Freemantle told the Guardian.


These findings account for the human cost of what was going on in society at the time of the recession. The 2008 collapse is characterized by unemployment, especially youth unemployment. Young people who had just started adult life pulled out rugs from underneath.

Freemantle asked me to identify other factors that could help explain the large increase. [2008-2018] We went through a recession, voted to leave Europe, which was not popular with young people, social media became ubiquitous, concerns about the climate increased, and there was a shift in attitudes towards it. [people disclosing that they have] Anxiety disorder.

Some of these events may have contributed to the feelings of hopelessness and helplessness that came after years of financial instability, added Freemantle, professor of clinical epidemiology and biostatistics and head of comprehensive clinical trial units at University College London.

He and his colleagues published in the British Journal of Psychiatry: It is noteworthy that the rate of generalized anxiety disorders and symptoms began its current upward trajectory during the period of policy and the effects of the 2008 economic downturn. Of tightening.

This surge was accompanied by a large increase in sick leave during 2009-14, where workers in the UK and Wales left their jobs due to stress, depression and anxiety. They found that 6 out of 10 people with anxiety (62%) had depression.

However, when it comes to anxiety, there is a clear intergenerational gap, which has not increased among people over 55. That’s probably because they tend to be less susceptible to the uncertainties and economic factors that young adults face, such as housing and job prospects, Fremantle said.

Andy Bell, deputy director of the Center for Mental Health thinktank, said: This is a very important discovery. They point out that it is necessary to understand the economic and social reasons for increasing anxiety. We shouldn’t jump into the conclusion that all of that belongs to social media.

The rate of common mental health problems is higher in unequal countries, and the UK has become more unequal since 2008.

Experts warn that the profound impact of the coronavirus pandemic on people’s health, jobs and everyday life almost certainly means anxiety has risen further this year.

Brian Dow, vice president of charity Rethink Mental Illness, said: Uncertainty is a normal part of life, but the Covid-19 pandemic and its four uncertainty diseases, isolation, unemployment, and debt are bound to bring rocket fuel below levels. Of anxiety that many people feel.

There are clearly systematic problems with the growth of anxiety and depression among young people. To reverse this trend and prevent the problem from becoming a crisis, the social contracts we offer young people must have better terms.

Case study

When Sydney was in grades 7-8 at school, the message she read on the social media site made her cry. Sydney said I don’t know why I got it for an app that allows people to ask questions without revealing their identity. The abuse I received with others was terrible.

This was the beginning of a long and complex journey that the 20-year-old has had for many years. Sites like this, Instagram and Facebook have exacerbated the anxiety I experienced since childhood.

When I was young, I used a lot of social media, but the girls who posted it had small, long hair. They would be as perfect as pictures and seeing those images would be really difficult because I didn’t look that way, so I’m constantly comparing myself to them, she said.

At worst, Sydney’s anxiety manifests as a panic attack that leaves her feeling like she’s dying. Her hands begin to sweat and she zones. At one level, anxiety made her so petrified that it was difficult to leave home and talk to people.

Getting good care from a carer was a turning point. This left Sydney feeling more stable as well as her dog, who pushed her out of the workout and when she didn’t want to go.

Part of her journey back to health included changing the way she used social media and only following accounts that made her feel good.

Society expects women to have a certain way, and it’s not enough if they don’t. It has always been the case since I was a kid. We have to do certain things and behave in certain ways, and that’s pushed out on social media, she said.

So what do young people need? When you contact your GP, she says, you get a referral and put you on a long waiting list. I think you need more support. It will also help people get into school.

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