Why Is Anxiety So Common Today and How to Be Proactive

why is anxiety so common

Why Is Anxiety So Common Today?

Approximately 1 in 6 people suffer from anxiety and we know that anxiety can lead to depression.  Universities and Colleges across North America are reporting that the rates of anxiety, self-harm, depression and suicide in first year students are at an all time high.

This makes us wonder why is anxiety so common these days?

Why are youth and young adults less resilient these days?

You probably know someone who’s struggled or is struggling with anxiety.

Many people ask, “Why are so many people suffering with anxiety these days?”. There are many possible reasons…

Ten Reasons Why Anxiety Is on The Rise

  • Over-parenting – many kids are being over protected and therefore not experiencing distress and learning how to problem-solve. We are experiencing more fear as technology creates instant awareness of bad news all over the world.  We lose our trust in allowing our children to venture into their environment.     Sometimes we are creating fear and strengthening the anxiety without realizing it.  (Click here to receive my free ebook:  8 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Your Child Is Anxious)


  • Authoritarian parenting – parents being overly controlling and kids not learning how to manage their lives


  • The “Rat Race” – extreme pressure to have an outstanding resume with outstanding marks to get accepted into top universities


  • Genetic link – sensitive parents often marry sensitive parents and it’s believed there is a genetic link with anxiety as well as parental modelling of anxiety


  • External locus of control – nowadays teens believe that circumstances are out of their control and they feel helpless vs. fifty years ago when youth took more responsibility for figuring out their problems


  • External motivation – our praise-craze has backfired. Kids who constantly seek external validation are more insecure and fragile. They may also become perfectionists and be so afraid of making a mistake that they stop challenging themselves.


  • Social Media – the popularity contest has exponentially expanded. Who can post the funniest, prettiest, best photo and get the most likes or most hearts? If you’re worried about not getting enough likes or hearts, you can always buy more!! This kind of culture is toxic and fuels anxiety.


  • Decreased creative play time – creative play allows one to express from the inside-out. Nowadays, play time often turns to video games such as shooting games which keep the brain and body in an anxious, adrenalin and dopamine fuelled state. When not playing video games, other kids may well be using their free time to texting and checking out each other’s social media profiles vs. having face to face more personal interactions.


  • Double Income parents – the cost of living has increased and many families are dual income which increases stress in the home which gets transmitted to the kids


  • Extra-Curricular activities – parents and kids are in a frenzied state driving their kids multiple times/week to numerous extra-curricular activities which equals less downtime and less family meals together

Capable Kids = Less Anxious Kids

When children and teens feel capable, they feel more secure and less anxious. According to social psychologist, Timothy Wilson, research studies have proven that regular volunteer work in one’s community gives youth the belief that “I’m a valued member of my community.”

The key is to make your teen feel like part of a larger whole that is making a difference.

~ Timothy Wilson


If they love sports, perhaps they can be a volunteer referee for a team. If they love music, he suggests putting a group together to play at senior centres. We can also lead by example, and create a volunteer routine which involves all members of the family.

Building Capability

We need to be Alpha parents who set boundaries and provide supportive “scaffolding” but without jumping in and rescuing.

We need to give the message that we believe in our youth and trust that they can handle the challenges that come their way.

We also need to give them opportunities to be responsible and show themselves that they are capable.

Does your child/youth know how to take a bus by him/herself?

Do you give your child chores to build capability?

Is your child comfortable talking on the phone to a relative, ordering food in a restaurant, buying groceries, or phoning a restaurant and ordering your family’s take out order?  (Nowadays, there are some young adults who feel too uncomfortable talking on the telephone to work in jobs where this is a requirement.)

Self-Aware & Self-Assured = Decreased Anxiety

Being aware of the power of photo editing is essential in today’s day of social media and general advertising.

Images across many forms of media show skinny, “beautiful” girls, and buffed-up, muscular, “handsome” men; we need to teach our children that all is not as it seems, as depicted in Dove’s Campaign for “Real Beauty”: The Dove Evolution Video.  (1 min.)


Model photos are doctored and social media is an illusion.  People only show a tiny fraction of their life on social media, and they usually choose the most amazing highlights. These images do not present the whole reality.

Kathy Charles from Napier University found Facebook to negatively impact people, the more they used it.  She found an increased number of “friends”, for girls on Facebook, increased the likelihood of depression.

If we can educate our children about these important topics and give them opportunities to feel capable, we can increase resilience and decrease anxiety.

To receive my free ebook: 8 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Your Child Is Anxious, click here.


why is anxiety so common

PS.  Registration is open for my August Summer Brain Science camps to teach children (Ages 7-9yrs. and 10-12 yrs.) about anxiety and anxiety management strategies.  To see the flyer with more information, click here and to register online click here and then click on “upcoming events/groups”

PPS.  If you have a youth (ages 13-19 yrs.) who plays a musical instrument and/or sings at an intermediate-advanced level, I highly recommend The Blueridge Chamber Music Workshop which takes place in Vancouver for two weeks in August.  The faculty are exceptional and the youth love this intensive musical experience.  The deadline to apply is July 1st, 2017.


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