How Common are Anxiety Disorders?

Anxiety disorders are a diverse group of  similar psychological disorders. Anxiety disorders have the common elements of unusually high levels of fear accompanied by anxiety and behavioral abnormalities. The Diagnostic and Statistical manual of Mental Disorders in its fifth edition (denoted as DSM-5) is the most recent publication which provides the definition and statistics regarding psychological disorders. The DSM-5 considers generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder (PD), social anxiety disorder, phobias and substance-induced anxiety to belong to the spectrum of anxiety disorders (, 2018).

Anxiety disorders have high prevalence among all the psychiatric and mental health disorders. Anxiety disorders often occur in conjunction with another major psychiatric ailment, depression. Worldwide, the prevalence of depression was expected to be three hundred million as of year 2015. Anxiety and depression often co-exist so there is an overlapping prevalence of both the disorders. Similar prevalence of various anxiety disorders also exists.  Anxiety disorders pose a huge burden of disease with respect to disability. Anxiety disorders are ranked as the sixth largest contributor to worldwide disability standing at 3.4 percent contribution to global disability. Anxiety disorders resulted in a sum of 24.6 million years lost to disability in 2015 alone (, 2018).

Do you know how common is anxiety? As per 2015 estimates, 3.6 percent of the people of the world suffer from one or the other form of an anxiety disorder. There are a total of two hundred and sixty four million people living in the world who suffer from anxiety. Anxiety and depression both have higher prevalence in the female population compared to the male population with 4.6 percent of females suffering from these disorders compared to 3.6% of the males. Females have nearly double the prevalence than males. When age groups are compared for prevalence, no significant differences exist between the different age-groups except for the elderly, who show a relatively lower prevalence. (, 2018) How common is anxiety? Now, this question does not carry any importance. How to find a solution, this is important.

Although yearly data and statistical figures have their own importance, lifetime-prevalence is considered to be the most significant statistical figure in understanding the impact of the disease. The twelve months prevalence figures merely suggest the number of people having an anxiety disorder currently. The probability of people acquiring an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives is predicted on the basis of past life-time prevalence statistics.

The following expresses the probability of an individual acquiring an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives:

Any of the anxiety disorders 28.8%
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) 5.7%
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) 1.6%
Panic disorder (PD) 4.7%
Social phobia 12.1%
Specific (other) phobia 12.5%


References (2018). [Online] Available at:;jsessionid=73BCB4A79B8729A7D4218C2125BEFA2A?sequence=1 [Accessed 26 Mar. 2018]. (2018). Anxiety Disorders: Background, Anatomy, Pathophysiology. [online] Available at: [Accessed 26 Mar. 2018].


Talk to an expert about anxiety today! Start a trial of online counseling.

Start My Free Trial

The views and opinions expressed in this post and any associated articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect opinions or policies of eTherapyPro. These posts and articles are shared for your enjoyment and consideration. Read them or not at your sole discretion and liability. They are not intended to replace counseling services rendered by licensed professionals. Consult with your counselor before implementing any content from these articles into your life.