Britons growing more anxious, fueling downturn: study

Apr 14, 2009

Britons are becoming more anxious due to worries ranging from terrorism to bird flu -- and the general air of anxiety is adding to the economic crisis, a study said Tuesday.

More than three quarters of people -- 77 percent -- said they thought the world was a more frightening place than 10 years ago, while over seven million Britons had problems, said the report by Mental Health Foundation.

Reasons for increased fear include terrorist threats, health scares, warnings by pressure groups, politicians' use of 'worst case scenarios' and even 24-hour rolling news, constantly highlighting dangers and risks.

Measures aimed at tackling crime and terrorism -- such as a rise in the use of CCTV security cameras -- were failing to quell fears and could be adding to them, said the report.

"This report suggests that we are becoming more fearful as a nation... people perceive our world as having become more frightening and frightened," said the authors of the report, In the Face of Fear.

The global economic crisis was also generating anxiety: 49 percent of people said they were worried about money, and 66 percent were fearful about the current financial situation in general.

"We have experienced an unprecedented number of enquiries since the beginning of the year from people seeking help, largely due to the economic crisis," said Nicky Lidbetter, chief executive of Anxiety UK.

But the reverse was also true: general anxiety was partly driving the economic crisis because emotion overrided logical thinking, warned the Mental Health Foundation, a charity aimed at helping reduce mental illnesses.

"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 ," said the report.

"Rising levels of fear in the UK are contributing to the current and hindering efforts to escape it," it added.

Anxiety could also lead to physical health problems, including heart disease, gastrointestinal troubles, asthma and allergies, while people with anxiety problems were four times as likely to have high blood pressure.

Unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as smoking, drinking too much and poor diet, were also linked to anxiety.

(c) 2009 AFP

Explore further: Boys will be boys? Yes, neuroscience now shows

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Now anxious people can help themselves

Jun 29, 2007

People suffering from anxiety disorders can help themselves using approaches based on cognitive behavioural therapies (CBT), according to a new book by a University of Manchester psychologist.

A little anxiety pays sometimes, study shows

Apr 03, 2008

Anxiety gets a lot of bad press. Dwelling on the negative can lead to chronic stress and anxiety disorders and phobias, but evolutionarily speaking, anxiety holds some functional value. In humans, learning to avoid harm is ...

Anxious? Do a crossword puzzle

Dec 17, 2008

Anxious people often engage in mindless distractions to keep from thinking scary or troubling thoughts. But results from a new brain imaging study by a University of California, Berkeley, researcher suggest that brain-sharpening ...

Recommended for you

Omega-3 fatty acids may prevent some forms of depression

1 hour ago

Patients with increased inflammation, including those receiving cytokines for medical treatment, have a greatly increased risk of depression. For example, a 6-month treatment course of interferon-alpha therapy ...

Ethical behavior can be contagious, study says

1 hour ago

A new study from Penn State Smeal College of Business faculty members Steven Huddart and Hong Qu examines the power of social influence on managers' ethical behavior. The Department of Accounting researchers find that managers ...

Predicting the future course of psychotic illness

2 hours ago

University of Adelaide psychiatry researchers have developed a model that could help to predict a patient's likelihood of a good outcome from treatment – from their very first psychotic episode.

Boys will be boys? Yes, neuroscience now shows

13 hours ago

If you've ever tried to warn teenagers of the consequences of risky behavior - only to have them sigh and roll their eyes - don't blame them. Blame their brain anatomy.

Depression increasing across the country

17 hours ago

A study by San Diego State University psychology professor Jean M. Twenge shows Americans are more depressed now than they have been in decades.

User comments : 0