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Studies Find Anxiety More Common Than Cancer (and nearly as dangerous)

A new study has found that anxiety and stress is more prevalent than cancer, and almost as dangerous to your health. Read more about this surprising finding below.
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A new study conducted in 2015 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has found that nearly 13 million working adults reported some level of anxiety or depressive disorder between 2008 and 2012. The data was collected by a Drug Use and Health’s Mental Health Surveillance Study, with the highest anxiety levels reported by the unemployed.

On average, about 6 percent of working adults reporting being treated for depression or anxiety within the last 12 months. Adults employed full time reported depression about 3.7 percent of the time and unemployed adults reported depression about 8.9 percent of the time.

According to statistics from the Center for Disease Control, about 8.5 percent of adults are diagnosed with cancer, just slightly under the prevalence of depression in unemployed individuals. Even young adults are feeling depression and anxiety today, with anxiety listed as the most commonly diagnosed mental health problem by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State.

According to this study, about half of college student study participants reported visiting a clinic for help with anxiety. Studies also show that anxiety and depression are on the rise among all age groups due to a variety of factors. Find out more about the risks of anxiety below:

Types of Anxiety Disorders

Some anxiety is normal, but it is when it goes beyond normal attacks during stressful occasions like public speaking and applying for a new job that anxiety starts to have negative effects. Anxiety is a normal reaction of the body to move blood to the brain to help you think more clearly. However, extreme anxiety can make you feel lightheaded, nauseated, and have long-term consequences. Anxiety is considered severe when it interferes with social, family, or career obligations.

Anxiety is divided into several types, depending on the trigger for the anxiety. The most common forms of anxiety disorder include:

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): Someone with OCD must perform rituals compulsively over and over, such as frequent hand washing or counting. OCD is triggered by traumatic events, genetics, personality, and a stressful lifestyle.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): GAD is an anxiety without cause. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America states that GAD affects about 6.8 million American adults each year. Case severity varies and some individuals with GAD can almost function normally. Severe cases include paralyzing fears of things like social situations, the judgment of others, and various phobias.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): This form of anxiety forms after a traumatic event (such as fighting in a war). Episodes typically hit without warning or apparent trigger.

Panic disorders: Panic disorders cause sudden feelings of extreme anxiety, terror, or doom. Symptoms include racing heart, shortness of breath, nausea, and chest pain. Panic attacks can strike anyone with an anxiety disorder, however.

Symptoms of an Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety disorders and general feelings of anxiety can be difficult to pinpoint, because symptoms can be ubiquitous. Usually, before anxiety symptoms appear a person must be in a stressful or worrisome situation for about six months. Symptoms can include:

  • Restlessness
  • Inability to sleep
  • Irritability (related to the stress)
  • Trouble concentrating (due to worry)
  • Nervousness
  • Constant fatigue
  • Feelings of danger or doom
  • Dizziness or weakness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Hot or cold flashes
  • Tingling
  • Chest pain
  • Rapid breathing
  • Flashbacks (from PTSD)
  • Depression
  • Sadness
  • Compulsive acts (from OCD)
  • Social withdrawal
  • Personality changes
  • Relationship problems
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Unwarranted fear


The Health Dangers of Anxiety

Ordinarily, temporary panic or anxiety is designed to improve your reaction to danger. This is the “flight or fight” response. Anxiety symptoms increase blood flow to the brain for quick thinking. However, prolonged feelings of anxiety can be dangerous. Your body is constantly living in a stressed, anxious phase in constant alert mode. This has dangerous side effects such as:

Health Dangers of Chronic Anxiety
  • Weakened immune system
  • Weakness
  • Lack of sleep
  • General feelings of illness
  • Reduced response to medications
  • Digestive problems
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • High blood pressure
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of sexual drive
  • Headaches
  • Clinical depression
  • Heart disease
  • Increased risk for diabetes
  • Muscle pain
  • Teeth grinding
  • Heart attacks
  • Suicide
  • Anxiety disorders

Anxiety Triggers

In today’s world, there are numerous uncertainties that make anxiety worse. Constant pressure from work, school, home responsibilities, schedules, activities, and social pressure can make it difficult to find time to relax.

It may not be so much that life is more difficult today than in the past, but just that it is much harder to take time away from the hustle and bustle to relax and de-stress. Individuals with clinical anxiety tend to have personalities that dwell more on the uncertainties of life.

Natural Ways to Prevent Anxiety and Depression

A 2013 study published in Nature Reviews Neuroscience examined how anxiety can become a problem. Some researchers have called anxiety disorders an “allergy” to anxiety, meaning that they have overactive responses to the same anxieties and fears that everyone has.

During anxiety, the brain creates multiple hormones to counteract the stress and deal with the problem. Chemicals such as Cortisol and adrenaline are created in greater concentrations to help you deal with the problem. Researchers advised individuals with severe anxiety responses to “just deal with” the greater levels of anxiety and not let them interfere with decision making and day-to-day living.

For example, a mother who is worried that her baby may catch a freak virus, she could try to check online symptom checkers less often to prevent some level of worry. The researchers state the goal of this kind of anxiety training is to teach individuals with anxiety that they can live through it and nothing exceptionally bad happens. This helps lessen anxiety symptoms over time.

What other natural treatments for anxiety can you try? The following options may be helpful in reducing some symptoms of anxiety:


During meditation and prayer, you learn to relax the mind and hand the problem to someone else (such as a higher power or simply to the universe). One meditative technique that has been shown to help with anxiety is mindfulness. In mindfulness, you simply focus on now rather than the future. This can be extremely helpful in preventing anxiety because most anxiety focuses on the future. Mindfulness helps you learn to focus on right now, which not only can cut down on future worry but actually helps you learn to solve problems more efficiently.

Meditating during exercise or in the bathtub are two easy ways to relieve stress and anxiety at the same time.


Multiple supplements have been linked with a reduction in feelings of anxiety and depression. These herbs and supplements promote clear mental thinking, relaxation, and boost the production of “happy” chemicals in the brain. If you suffer from anxiety, try adding the following supplements to your routine:

Beneficial Supplements for Anxiety
  • St. John’s Wort
  • Folic acid
  • Methylcobalamin
  • Vitamin B6
  • Rose extract
  • Ginkgo biloba
  • L-Phenylalanine
  • Valerian
  • GABA
  • Chamomile
  • Passionflower

Essential Oils

Breathing in essential oils, such as in aromatherapy, can have a positive effect on mood and anxiety. According to the American College of Healthcare Sciences, just as colors can affect your mood in different ways, scents can have an effect on mood and anxiety levels as well. Some of the most beneficial essential oils are listed below. Try adding a few drops to a bath or rubbing oil into your skin (using a carrier oil to prevent burning) as a natural, anti-anxiety perfume.

Beneficial Scents for Anxiety 



Clary sage




Exercise is extremely important to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. Numerous studies have found that exercise is linked with reduced stress, better mood, and less anxiety. A study conducted by the University of Missouri-Columbia found that individuals who exercised with high intensity exercises had the least anxiety, stress, and depression.

Another study found that individuals who exercised regularly for at least 12 weeks had greater reduction in anxiety than individuals who gave up sooner. Exercise should be conducted at full intensity for at least 10-30 minutes at a time. Although 30 minutes at least 3 times a week is considered to be ideal, even 10 minutes of high-intensity exercise daily can help reduce feelings of anxiety and improve overall health.


Food can play a huge role in your mental state. A lack of healthy foods can alter your brain chemistry and make you more likely to feel depressed or anxious. During times of stress, a lot of people turn to quick sources of energy such as sugary foods and fast food, but these foods can make anxiety worse. Stick to minimally processed foods with a diet rich in vegetables, protein, and healthy fats. Drink plenty of water and avoid sugary drinks and binge drinking alcohol.

A study from the American Journal of Psychiatry found that women who ate a healthy diet had much less anxiety and depression than women who ate a lot of junk food. For an extra anxiety-busting boost, add nuts, cheese, peanut butter, oats, chicken, milk, and bananas to your diet. These foods are rich in serotonin, which can reduce anxiety and increase calm feelings.

Prevent Anxiety with Natural Treatments

Anxiety can quickly turn into something much more dangerous, such as an anxiety disorder, depression, or even thoughts of suicide. Anxiety should be addressed quickly to prevent serious and dangerous health effects. Although anxiety is natural and beneficial in the short term, in the long run, anxiety will have damaging effects in the body that can cause immune disorders, digestive problems, high blood pressure, insomnia, diabetes, and even heart attacks. Learning to deal with anxiety and treat it naturally will help keep anxious feelings in check and improve your quality of life. A routine of exercise, healthy diet, relaxation and meditation, supplements, and essential oils can help keep anxiety in check.





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