Anxiety Disorder Statistics 2020 – U.S. and Worldwide

Anxiety is the most common mental disorder in the U.S and it’s not going away. We took an in-depth look at anxiety disorder stats in the U.S. and worldwide. You’ll find information related to anxiety statistics on types, gender, race, and more.

Anxiety is the body’s normal response to stress. It helps us stay motivated while studying, focused while completing an important project at work, or alert while protecting children from everyday dangers. 

Anxiety becomes an issue when it hinders your daily activities. It’s an issue when you feel sudden panic when there is no real threat or have overwhelm for non-threatening activities such as riding an elevator or greeting a stranger in public. 

Anxiety Statistics Infographic

anxiety statistics - us and worldwide

Anxiety Statistics in the U.S.

Anxiety disorders are prevalent in the United States, impacting over 18% of the population. That’s around 40 million people!

  • Anxiety is the most common mental disorder in the U.S. 
  • Anxiety impacts 18.1% of adults in the United States
  • It’s estimated that 31.1% of adults in the U.S. have had an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. 
  • Anxiety is more common among women, at 23.4%, compared to men at 14.3%
  • Even though anxiety can be treatable, only 36.9% seek help.
Anxiety Statistics in the United States

What Severity to Most People Have

The Sheehan Disability Scale (SDS) was developed to assess impairment in three major aspects of life; work/school, social life, and family life. This is a self-reported tool that has the patient select a rating between 0-10 of the severity for each of the three categories. 

Based on the Sheehan Disability Scale, the severity of anxiety is as follows:

  • Mild – 43.5%
  • Moderate – 33.7%
  • Severe / Serious – 22.8%
severity of anxiety statistics

Anxiety Statistics Worldwide

Measuring anxiety worldwide is not an easy thing to do. But there are a few impressive studies including thousands of people across several countries that give us a general idea of the anxiety disorder rates worldwide. 

One study found that general anxiety impacts 3.7% of the population based on a survey of 150,000 adults across 26 countries. This study found anxiety levels were much higher in high-income countries compared to low-income countries.

  • low-income countries: 1.6%
  • middle-income countries: 2.8%
  • high-income countries: 5.0%

Another approach combined data from 87 studies across 44 countries to estimate global anxiety rates. Based on their methodology, they estimate 7.3% of the world population are impacted by anxiety. Rates were lower for African cultures at 5.3% compared to 10.4% in Euro/Anglo cultures. 

Are Anxiety Rates Increasing?

Americans are becoming more anxious. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) ran a poll in 2018 to measure anxiety levels in the United States. On a 100 point scale, the average score in 2018 was 51. This is five points higher than the previous year. 

The largest increase in anxiety was related to paying bills. The study also found that millennials are the most anxious generation.

Types of Anxiety Statistics

Generalized Anxiety Disorder – 6.8 mil, 3.1%

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) affects 6.8 million adults or 3.1% of the U.S population. But only 43% of people with GAD are receiving treatment.

People with GAD excessively worry about many different things. As the name suggests, it refers to general anxiety that can range across various topics such as health, family, work, death, or money. Those struggling with GAD may picture the worst-case scenario or envision a disaster when thinking about day-to-day life events. 

Panic Disorder – 6 mil, 2.7%

Panic Disorder affects 6 million adults or 2.7% of the U.S population.

Those with panic disorder have sudden attacks of panic or terror when there is no actual danger. People having panic attacks sometimes believe they are having a heart attack, losing their mind, or dying. Symptoms of a panic attack generally include rapid heartbeat, sweating, shaking or trembling, shortness of breath, chest pain, or feeling dizzy or faint. You may also have the feeling of losing control or going crazy. Not fun, to say the least.

Social Anxiety (Social Phobia) – 15 mil, 6.8%

Social anxiety affects 15 million adults or 6.8% of the U.S population. It begins as early as age 13. 

Social anxiety, also known as social phobia, is the 3rd largest mental health issue. It’s the fear of social situations that involve interactions with others.

People with social anxiety may want to make friends and be a part of social gatherings. But they may be perceived as shy, quiet, unfriendly, nervous, or disinterested. They have trouble being criticized, being the center of attention, talking or making phone calls in public, or meeting important people or authority figures.

Specific Phobias – 19 mil, 8.7%

Specific phobias affect 19 million adults, or 8.7% of the U.S population. 

Specific phobia, formerly called a simple phobia, is an ongoing fear of a specific situation or thing that isn’t an actual threat. Exposure to the specific phobia may cause terror or distress, which generally leads to avoidance of the object or situation. Even though the person can recognize the fear as irrational, they are unable to overcome it.  

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – PTSD – 7.7 mil, 3.5%

PTSD affects 7.7 million adults or 3.5% of the U.S. population.

PTSD can occur when a person has been through a traumatic event such as a violent attack, war, or a serious accident. They may have disturbing and negative feelings or thoughts that last long after the event has ended. It is common for people with PTSD to avoid situations that remind them of the traumatic event. 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – 2.2 mil, 1.0%

OCD affects 2.2 million adults or 1.0% of the U.S. population.

People with OCD have recurring thoughts or obsessions making them feel the need to repeat behaviors. This repetitive behavior may be something as simple as washing hands, cleaning, or straightening items on a desk. They have a hard time focusing on tasks other than their obsessions. 

types of anxiety statistics

How are different races impacted by anxiety disorders?

White Americans are most commonly diagnosed with the following anxiety disorders – Social Anxiety, General Anxiety, and Panic Disorder.

African Americans are the most likely to struggle with PTSD.

Racial GroupSocial AnxietyGeneral AnxietyPanic DisorderPTSD
White Americans12.
African Americans8.
Hispanic Americans8.
Asian Americans5.

Everyday Anxiety vs. Anxiety Disorder

While everyone experiences everyday anxiety, there is a fine line between normal anxiety and an anxiety disorder.

Everyday Anxiety

  • Worry about paying bills, getting a job, a breakup, or other important life events.
  • Embarrassment or self-consciousness in an uncomfortable or awkward social situation
  • Nervousness or sweating before a big test, business presentation, stage performance, or other significant events
  • Realistic fear of dangerous object, place, or situation

Anxiety Disorder

  • Constant and unsubstantiated worry that causes significant distress and interferes with daily life. 
  • Avoiding social situations for fear of being judged, embarrassed, or humiliated.
  • Irrational fear or avoidance of an object, place, situation that poses little or no threat of danger. 
  • Recurring nightmares, flashbacks, or emotional numbing related to a traumatic event that occurred several months or years before. 
everyday anxiety vs. anxiety disorder