Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18% of the population, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. We talk with a psychiatrist about anxiety, how common it is, and what kind of anxiety is significant enough to treat.
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Anxiety Disorders Are Highly Treatable When Help Is Sought, Psychiatry Expert Says
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting about 40 million adults, according to the National Institute of Mental Illness.
Although such ailments are highly treatable, only a small amount of those suffering seek help, said Dr. Ned H. Kalin of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Only about 30 to 40 percent of people suffering from anxiety and depression seek out treatment due in part to the stigma associated with mental illness, and a societal view that it’s a sign of personal weakness, Kalin said.
“That’s not the case,” he said of it being considered a weakness. “When you have anxiety (or depression) that is moderate to severe, these can be disabling problems that not only influence your life from the standpoint of work and family, but can also affect your physical health.”
Everyone experiences both stress and anxiety at some point, but chronic worrying or constant anticipation of bad things happening isn’t normal and can lead to physical problems like stomach problems, back aches and headaches, said Kalin, chair of the UW-Madison Department of Psychiatry.
Those suffering from this illness should talk with a doctor.
“There is no question that our emotions can really, very much influence our cardio-vascular system, our immune system, and our gut,” Kalin said. “Just about every system in the body is influenced by our emotional responses and by stress and anxiety.”
Kalin directs research at the Health Emotions Research Institute, which studies the linkage between emotions and physical well-being. He said he hopes that by understanding this connection better, people will be better equipped to recognize the physical symptoms and deal with them using mindfulness-based stress reduction.
However, Kalin doesn’t diminish the use of medicines.
“Most of the medicines that we use have relatively minor side-effects and are under-utilized in general in our population,” he said.
- Larry Meiller Host
- L. Malik Anderson Producer
- Ned H Kalin MD Guest
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