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More Fear

nickh

nickh

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New report from Mental Health Foundation released to co-incide with Mental Health Action Week shows growth of fear and hence anxiety....

http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/information/news/?entryid17=71552

I cut and paste....

>>Anxiety disorders rising with 800,000 more sufferers since early nineties

Over 7 million living with anxiety problems in the UK

High levels of fear and anxiety also linked to serious physical health problems

Charity says rising levels of fear and anxiety are contributing to economic problems

Call for nationwide campaign to protect public’s mental health



A new report from the Mental Health Foundation reveals a UK society that is increasingly fearful and anxious, backing the latest national statistics that show a long term increase in the rate of anxiety disorders in the general population.



The charity says the two trends are linked and that rising levels of fear in the UK are contributing to the current economic crisis and hindering efforts to escape it. The Mental Health Foundation is calling for a nationwide campaign to protect the public’s mental health against anxiety problems.



Fear linked to rising anxiety disorders and poorer health
An Office for National Statistics* report published earlier this year shows that in England alone, the rate of anxiety disorders in the population rose from 13.3 per cent to 15.0 per cent between 1993 and 2007. Applied to the whole UK population this indicates that 7.2 million (1 in 7) people have anxiety disorders in the UK - 800,000 more than in the early nineties.



UK-wide research carried out for In the Face of Fear shows that more than a third of people (37 per cent) feel more frightened than they used to and a majority think the world has become more frightening in the last 10 years (77 per cent).



According to the Mental Health Foundation, the more fearful people feel in the general population, the more people will be tipped over into diagnosable anxiety problems.



The report reveals that high levels of fear and anxiety are strongly linked to depression as well as a range of physical health problems including coronary heart disease, gastrointestinal troubles, asthma and allergies. People with anxiety problems are four times as likely to develop high blood pressure, and studies show a link between anxiety and weakness of the immune system. Anxiety is also associated with unhealthy lifestyle choices such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol and poor diet.



Fear and modern life
Fear is an emotion that is recognised faster than conscious thought by the brain, and triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response.

In the Face of Fear explains that historically this enabled people to face immediate threats to their safety as hunter gatherers. But in modern life it causes people problems because abstract or unpredictable concerns such as terrorism or economic problems demand more considered responses. People still have the same strong physical and mental responses, yet cannot fight or flee from current threats.



According to the charity, a ‘culture of fear’ is one of the reasons for increasing levels of anxiety. A constant news stream, widely available information about threats, and ‘worst case scenario’ language sometimes used by politicians, pressure groups, businesses and public bodies around issues such as knife-crime, MRSA, bird flu and terrorism can fuel the problem. The charity says that public bodies and businesses should take steps to tackle institutionally-driven fear.



The introduction of public policy measures such as the installation of CCTV cameras to tackle fear of crime can also be counter-productive. The UK now has 4.2 million, more than in the rest of Europe put together. Such devices can actually make some people feel more fearful, as they sense that high security suggests risk. Fear of crime continues to rise even though crime rates have fallen in the last decade.



A poll for In the Face of Fear reveals a number of reasons why people say they feel more frightened or anxious than they used to, including a loss of solidarity and community, the world becoming a more dangerous place, the threat of terrorism, the risk of crime, a loss of certainty and security, and because of an increase in the availability of information about threats to their safety.



Fear and the economy
The current financial crisis is having an adverse effect on the nation’s wellbeing – two-thirds of those polled for the report (66 per cent) said they are experiencing some fear and anxiety as a result. Anxiety UK, the country’s largest anxiety disorders charity, reported a doubling of calls to its telephone helpline in the first two months of this year.



The Mental Health Foundation says that fear is partly driving the economic crisis because the emotion is over-riding logical thinking. Individuals and institutions - keen to protect themselves - are now too afraid to lend, spend and invest, despite the fact that these actions could assist in ending the recession. Franklin D Roosevelt knew of the major impact of fear on the economy when he gave his inaugural address in the midst of economic crisis in 1933, declaring ‘The only thing we have to fear is fear itself’.



Some social groups particularly vulnerable to anxiety
Those with anxiety-related disorders are more likely to be single, divorced or separated, earning less money, poorly educated, living in urban areas, living on their own or as a lone parent. The report highlights that four times as many people are living alone than 50 years ago – and consequently they are being forced to cope with wider social and economic problems on their own.



Too few seek help for treatable anxiety problems
Another contribution to rising levels of anxiety is that people do not seek help from their GP when it becomes problematic, or do not realise that they have a problem, according to the charity. While anxiety problems are usually treatable, they are massively under-treated, placing unnecessary suffering on individuals and families. Only 1 in 7 people with mixed anxiety and depression - the most common mental health disorder - are currently receiving treatment.



Call for nationwide mental health awareness campaign
The charity is calling for attention to be paid to the general population’s mental health, and asserts that a campaign is needed to raise awareness about how people can better understand their emotions and protect themselves against anxiety and depression.



Dr Andrew McCulloch, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said:
“This report shows that fear is having a serious negative impact on the mental and physical health of the nation. The modern world will test our resilience again and again, and people need to know how to process their emotions better to prevent harm to their mental and physical health. A mental health promotion campaign that shows individuals how to look after their own mental health would be of immense public benefit, and help prevent common mental health problems like anxiety and depression.



“Prevention campaigns about physical illnesses like heart disease and cancer are often mounted but we have seen little investment in educating people about how they can look after their mental health. Currently less than 0.1% of adult mental health investment is allocated to mental health promotion. The UK needs to follow the example of countries like Australia that take the mental health of their whole populations seriously and invest in promotion more readily.”



The Mental Health Foundation has helpful information about fear and anxiety, including a podcast and booklet, on its website – visit www.mentalhealth.org.uk/fear

(continued in next post)
 
unlucky

unlucky

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Mar 21, 2009
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I can confirm the mental going into pysical symptoms. Not life threatening but I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome, severe migraines, low immune system and neck and shoulder pain which my gp says are all linked to my anxiety.
 
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