Why do 1 in 10 individuals in the UK have an anxiety disorder?

4th December 2023 / United Kingdom
Why do 1 in 10 individuals in the UK have an anxiety disorder?

Anxiety disorders are becoming more common these days, and many people are becoming aware of them as a result of the increasing publicity that surrounds them. As a result, many people are either suffering or helping close family or friends with anxiety, which could, of course, become or be a part of a wider state of depression.

It’s easy to see how anxiety and depression seem similar – both are types of mood disorders. Anxiety creates feelings of nervousness, worry, or dread, whereas depression causes feelings of sadness and hopelessness, and it often comes with reduced energy. Although the two conditions are different in their own ways, both can occur at the same time.

However, the big difference is that being anxious is very common and quite normal. It helps to prepare us by creating a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about an uncertain outcome – and preparing for such an event, often reduces anxiousness. We know this feeling, for example, when taking exams or thinking about an interview.

In some cases, being anxious can cause other problems.  A persistent sense of worry, dread or apprehension can leave sufferers with anxiety-induced insomnia as a result of being unable to relax, unwind and then ultimately fall asleep.

In the United Kingdom, around eight million individuals are found to be dealing with an anxiety disorder of some sort at any one time, translating to almost 1 in 10 individuals being victims of this mental health condition.

There are many reasons why anxiousness occurs, which is often driven by having a sense of being out of control of circumstances such as the overall economic outlook, longstanding debate on recession, bleak housing market, interest rates or other factors contributing to a heightened sense of anxiety, validating the number of sufferers. And it helps us to gain a clear picture when taking a closer look at natural stressors and the types of anxiety triggers of today.


Cost of living and homeowners

According to a recent study, around eight per cent of mortgage holders in the UK have sold their homes as interest rates and therefore, mortgage payments become unaffordable. From there, another 20 per cent of mortgage holders are now thinking of putting their homes on the market after the recent spike in borrowing costs, which has strained an already depressed housing market. For most though, the way forward is simply to cut down on daily home expenses, delay long-desired big projects such as home renovations or pay more attention to accurately calculate what money is being spent on. 

Not long ago, homeowners would jump on just about anything that was on-trend. Today, with the cost of living crisis, homeowners are much more cautious about what constitutes a good investment when it comes to their own home. For those who can afford to, refurbishing is still the way forward. Finding a great value kitchen is once again extremely popular. 

However, the story of mortgage costs has yet to become clear. House prices actually edged up 0.2 per cent last month as a result of mortgage rates starting to come down a bit, the Nationwide Building Society said.

SafeSubcribe/Instant Unsubscribe - One Email, Every Sunday Morning - So You Miss Nothing - That's It

The Nationwide said financial markets had now estimated that interest rates had peaked and would start to come down, easing affordability pressures. But there was a warning – its chief economist said it would be unrealistic to expect a big drop in borrowing costs in the near future.


Burnouts and work-related stress

Piling on top of anxiety is work-related stress that leads to what is termed ‘burnout’. Out of 1,000 UK adults, 22% have fought through burnout or some sort of work-related stress that has affected their ability to perform their duties.

Generally speaking, there are six main areas that can lead to work-related stress if they are not spotted and managed properly, which are; demands, control, support, relationships, role and change.

For example, workers may say that they cannot cope with the demands of their jobs or cannot control how they do their work. This is the same for workers who don’t receive enough information and support, have trouble with relationships at work, or are being bullied.

Just as important are that workers don’t fully understand their roles and responsibilities, and this is especially true if they are not engaged when a business is undergoing change.

It is, of course, needless to say, that work-related stress affects people differently, as what stresses one person in the workplace may not affect another. Factors like skills and experience, age or disability may all affect whether a worker can cope better than the next.

According to research by Axa, the insurance company, the true cost of running on empty: work-related stress is now costing the UK economy a whopping £28bn a year.


The difference between depression and burnout

There is a misconception about depression and anxiety. With depression, people commonly refer to burnout as something that is interchangeable to describe feelings of emptiness, mental exhaustion and an inability to cope.

Whilst similar in some cases, burnout may look a lot like the symptoms of depression, but in reality, burnout itself is not a medical condition. However, so common is the condition, that the World Health Organization (WHO) now includes burnout in its International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). WHO defines it as an occupational phenomenon.

Importantly, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) considers burnout to be an experience rather than a diagnosis. As they conclude, it is the result of prolonged interpersonal stressors at work.

Interestingly, burnout is most commonly seen in service-oriented or the “helping” professions, typically including social workers, teachers, doctors, nurses and the like.

In contrast, depression, is, in fact, a clinical diagnosis. It goes much deeper as it affects how a person thinks, behaves, and feels, often leading to different emotional and physical problems.

Whilst there is an overlap between burnout and depression (or that burnout is a potential risk factor for developing depression), a 2020 study found that their symptoms are quite distinct. As mentioned, burnout is mostly related to situation-specific problems often related to a person’s working environment, whereas depression can show up regardless of a person’s circumstances and environment. It is important that employees with workplace mental health benefits can reduce their sick days and increase productivity to ensure longer-term employment prospects.

Anxiety and stress are some of today’s preponderant health issues, but with enough awareness and the right help at hand, they can be overcome and conquered.

Photo source: https://unsplash.com/photos/person-tying-his-shoe-on-road-9NhciG1wq10



At a time when reporting the truth is critical, your support is essential in protecting it.
Find out how

The European Financial Review

European financial review Logo

The European Financial Review is the leading financial intelligence magazine read widely by financial experts and the wider business community.