Friday, October 2, 2009

The Age of Anxiety

In her interesting NYT article about anxiety, Robin Henig reports that 40 million adults are affected by some form of anxiety disorder. In 2008 there were 228,000 adults in the US, and according to the NIMH this checks out to 18.1% of US adults having an anxiety disorder in any given year. With such a high prevalence, it's easy to argue that there should be a re-frame in our cultural conception of anxiety. Like Tyler Cowen argues in Create Your Own Economy about autism spectrum disorders, anxiety is a cognitive style that can be highly adaptive. As (Psyc Prof) Jerome Kagan notes, inner-directed people are the ones who make society hum. I would bet that bloggers are disproportionately anxious people, given that journal writing has stress-reducing benefits. This 2005 article claims that half of bloggers consider their writing a form of therapy, but I can't find a link to the original study.