People are not worried by real problems so much as by their imagined anxieties about real problems.
Anxiety disorders are highly prevalent, impact your ability to do things (life success) and your ability to enjoy things (life satisfaction). They may lead to acute suicidal thoughts when severe, and increase lifetime risk of suicidality if not treated. As such, they can affect your active longevity. Yet they are often discounted by society and viewed as less severe than other, “major”, psychiatric disorders.
Anxiety is reactivity to external environment and internal milieu. A certain amount of it is necessary and useful for adapting to and surviving adverse and dangerous environments. Excessive reactivity—clinical anxiety—is due to past personal exposure to stressful events, which lead to gene expression and epigenetic changes, or due to your ancestors being exposed to stressful events, through epigenetic and genetic changes selected by evolution.
Anxiety has a temporal component—it is about potential future events. It has a quantitative component—the perceived challenge seems greater than your ability to cope. It also has a fit component—you perceive not being in control. People who focus on the present, on what they can do, and have an internal locus of control are protected from anxiety. Younger people are more focused on the future given their long life ahead, are less experienced thus less sure about what to do, and tend to have an external locus of control so they can integrate with their peers. They also are addicted to social media. As such, there has been an explosion in anxiety disorders and even suicidality in adolescents, particularly young girls.
There are solutions. Meditation helps with being in the present, sports with developing the ability to get things done, and not reading the news or social media much, focusing instead on journaling and thoughtful books, lead to developing an internal locus of control. Helping people take charge of their life and mind is why we developed our app, Life x Mind. We are also working on blood tests for anxiety, matching people to medications, for those that have a clinical disorder that needs to be brought under control. There is a lot of hope for progress, and reasons for optimism.
Live. Happier. Longer.