Anxiety disorders are Canada's most common mental health problem
Thursday, 7-Dec-2006

The Statistics Canada Community Health Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing has revealed anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problems in Canada. This recent survey estimates that 1,040,000 Canadians (3.2%) have social anxiety disorder, 480,000 (1.5%) have panic disorder, and 227,000 (0.7%) have agoraphobia. Anxiety disorders were especially common in the young people in the survey (ages 15 to 24) with 6.5% experiencing one of these problems over the last year and 12% over their lifetime. These are low estimates of the rates of serious anxiety disorders in the population because several important anxiety disorders such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Specific Phobia were not surveyed.

Anxiety disorders are more common in women than men and among those experiencing high levels of stress. Identifying and treating anxiety disorders are particularly important because these problems often develop during childhood and represent an increased risk for other serious health problems such as depression, substance misuse, and smoking.

The Canadian Psychiatric Association has just published Treatment Guidelines for Anxiety Disorders. It is hoped the guidelines will encourage doctors to identify anxiety disorders, which can be associated with a wide variety of physical symptoms. Often these physical symptoms will be treated but the underlying anxiety disorder will go unrecognized.