The Rise of Anxiety

Photo by Gabriele Diwald on Unsplash

As the mental health crisis continues to loom over our heads, we’ve noticed an astonishing pattern emerge: diagnoses of anxiety disorders, particular social anxiety, are skyrocketing. Now the question is: why?

Now, I’m no scientist (I’m sure any commenter on this blog can tell you that) but I do have two key ideas that I think play into why the rise of anxiety is occuring in the first place.

The first concept is based around anxiety’s mechanism of action. Anxiety is a spontaneous illness — meaning, it can get cultivated without any past predisposition. To get more specific, illnesses such as anxiety or PTSD are developed by a key event or series of key events, whereas illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolarity need to have some sort of genetic inheritance or neurological imbalance to occur. This is why we see almost all spontaneous mental illnesses at the top of the case chart.

So while this may explain why anxiety is so common, it doesn’t explain its growth. This is where our second concept comes into play. 

I believe that the rise of anxiety can be directly correlated — neigh, directly implicated — by the rise of the internet. Let me explain. If you were to go back to 1975, and make an awkward gaffe on stage in your high school, you could say with confidence that “things will be fine since all 50 or so people here will just forget this”. And that’s true — it’s because, pre-internet, news simply didn’t travel as fast, and if it didn’t travel fast then it couldn’t have a sense of permanency. Now, let’s flip to today. On a daily basis, embarrassing gaffes among small groups of people are uploaded, and — depending on their severity and virality — are shared quickly and made permanent. The long term effects of something like this are devastating, and is definitely something I’d pick up in a future blog post. But the main point to remember here is that it has gotten more dangerous to fuck up socially. Because of this, our “threat sensors” our over-stimulated, and chronic anxiety over social events occurs.

Once again, this is mostly ballparking by a person who is not an expert. But I think most will agree that there is a level of danger that has been created over the widespread antagonism of the internet. Will there be a solution? Likely, somewhere in the future. But we better think of it fast. 

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