Is human anxiety on the rise? It seems that more and more of us are being inflicted with anxiety disorders, phobias and panic attacks than ever before. In the blogosphere alone, one cannot peruse the multitudes of sites without being inundated with a flood of so-called wellness experts or life coaches dedicated to combating your personnel inner demons. And at the top of their list — is anxiety!
So what’s going on here? Is anxiety actually on the rise? Is this a true reflection of what’s happening in today’s society? Or is it a falsely perceived increase, and simply a result of today’s new technologies.
With the rise of social media and its easy access availability, global communication today is simply a click away. Including open discussions about our anxieties! Perhaps this is why anxiety seems to be on the rise? There’s simply more of us talking openly about our feelings and today this reaches a world wide audience.
Many mental health experts blame the rise of anxiety on the Internet. Social media being the main culprit. They say social media is not only negatively addictive, but harmful to our mental health in a variety of ways.
Including what they call “Social comparison theory.” That we are constantly (subconsciously or not) comparing our lives with others. This causing feelings of inadequacies, lowering of our personal self-worth and yes — causing us anxiety!
Scrolling through your social media connections can at times make you feel more connected to the world. Yet at other times it can cause you to feel left out and socially isolated from those posting (real or not) life styles of exciting vacations and social events. Presumably having the time of their lives interacting with interesting or vibrant people and of the opposite sex! All the while, you are in your world, scrolling and comparing what they claim to be doing. Which according to them, is experiencing the joys of a popular life.
This of course, more of an affliction among our young who are at that impressionable age of comparing themselves with others. But not solely so! Even adults are prone to envy or feelings of self-doubt about their lives when comparing those of a similar age. But does this then lead to anxiety?
Online posting, then waiting for confirmation, feeds our egos and our need for others’ approval. Waiting for our PC or phone to give us a notification that someone has liked our post, re-posted it, or has sent us a return message in response gives us a rush of adrenaline.
Not getting a response, or a positive one, has the opposite effect. And this occurring often — leads to anxiety.
ANXIETY ON THE RISE
Some studies are claiming that within the last 3 decades alone, anxiety disorders have jumped more than 1,000%. Though the numbers are likely immune to the probabilities of the under-diagnosed of the past and the over-diagnosed of today. Yet even half that number is alarming!
So what gives? Why is anxiety so prevalent in today’s society?
Possible answers lie in a vast plethora of opinions. Ranging from increased stress of financial worries to news of increasingly negative world issues, to down right dooms-day predictions of world ending Pandemics and climate change. Another leading contender, which has today become a societal norm, is the perceived ever-widening gap between our growing expectations and our ability to fulfill them.
However realistic or not this gap is, it often leads to anxiety when our expectations continue to be unfulfilled.
There are a lot of reasons to be anxious in today’s world. Economic instability, changing job markets, world politics and of course reality reminders that we are all at the mercy of our often angry planet.
Until recently, before social media reared its ugly head, frequent human contact was the norm and helped in alleviating our anxieties. Today most of our human contacts are in social media form leading to feelings of increased loss of community and the face to face relationships within.
The multitude of friendships we once shared, now whittled down to our social media connections. And our interactions with our community, now primarily relegated to our PC’s, our phones and our Plasma TVs.
Our growing reliance on texting and social media in place of community, is in the end, no substitute for real human interaction. The enormous influx of negative news it brings, doesn’t help either. All serving to increase our already growing anxieties. Anxieties inflamed by our shrinking face to face relationships, and by the perceived unstable world presented to us on our media devices.
Yet all this anxiety is somewhat baffling since today we’re actually much safer from real danger than ever before. Most of us today in the modern world, have and will have enough food in our lifetime. As well as a constant roof over our heads. We enjoy the best medical care in human history and contrary to the nightly news, deaths associated with war, hunger, drought, or infectious disease have been steadily on the decline now for decades. In today’s world of technological advancements, our lives are easier and safer than ever before.
Yet still it seems, we continue to find new ways to become anxious? Trading off old worries for new ones?
So Why? Is it simply human nature? Or a sign of the times influenced by our social media?
Perhaps that’s the ultimate revealing question — yet to be unanswered.