Birth and consequences of anxiety trend
The 21st century is a century of disruption. It started off with post-USSR countries shaking off after the breakup, followed up with economic growth interrupted by World Economic Crisis in 2008. The period was boomed with massive and rapid digitalization enabling globalization. It all results in century-worth events happening during a short period: wars, terrorism, a growth of developing economies, epidemics, healthcare development and others. Human attention span shrinks being overload with numerous tasks and excess of information. Where do these events lead humanity? This article investigates the way people deal with new are and what may be an outcome.
Anxiety, fatigue and depression
just a trend?
The terms "anxiety" and "depression" become closer to each other according to perception development. According to Google Trends, from 2004 to today, "depression" has had a downturn slop, while "anxiety" trend line grew to the same search level as "depression". It rings a bell that the meaning of those two terms is not far apart from users perspective. From a psychiatrist standpoint, anxiety is one of the first steps heading to depression. Curing this symptom might prevent otherwise occurring mental disorders.
Most common treatment for anxiety or depression is medication, as it is least costly. The leader in global antidepressant usage in the US, followed by entirely opposite by all means country - Iceland. In these countries, there are 110 and 106 antidepressant users per 1000 people respectively. Australia, Canada, and Denmark close the top 5 of antidepressant consumption OECD's list. Overall, top 20 of the list have one characteristic in common - all of the countries are developed economies. Is depression a "first world" problem? And if so, is there the threat of developing the world to get the disease with economic development?
The cost of
According to Robert L. Leahy, Ph.D. from American Institute for Cognitive Therapy, depression causes 35% decrease in lifetime income including an average loss of €10 000 per year by age 50. While personal monthly medication cost varies from €50 to €200, an additional treatment like therapy, quality foods, gyms, yoga or meditation classes, and else, can all add up to thousands per month. The boost of well-being trend is connected to anxiety and depression prevention as well. Sport and active lifestyle do help the maintain good physical and mental health. Therefore, we witness the growth of well-being sector which is expected to help consumers to relax and fight with fatigue and anxiety. But why these symptoms become so widespread and attract so much attention?
How did we
end up here
First of all, fatigue and anxiety become a norm for urban world. At least once a month there are new researches and articles on how to overcome depression. Most of TV-series and movies portray a dystopic future of fear and emptiness. Even dietary supplements marketing campaigns are built on the notion to help to feel happy again. Being tired, stuck in one place, having no mood, and other symptoms of fatigue and depression, become normal experiences. This new culture makes it desirable to be on the downward slope of the mental health as some sources call it a "creative point".
Also, latest researches prove that Facebook and other social media have their role in raising global depression levels. For example, a study by the University of Houston found a correlation between Facebook usage and depressive symptoms leading to "social comparison" phenomenon. At the same time, researchers from the University of Michigan point out that Facebook users' subjective well-being is declining with time.
Moreover, people get used to taking medicine. It all starts with innocent dietary supplements. According to the study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, half of Americans take vitamins. Only third of Americans taking antidepressants have had an appointment with doctor withing past year. Being not in the best shape or being in need for medication is becoming a norm. The vitamins and supplements make up a multi-billion dollar industry which benefits from lifelong habits of additional nutrient consumption. The sector will continue to grow, triggering new consumption behavior that will have a spillover effect on the whole medical industry, including antidepressants.
Current mental pressure results in a creation of different new consumer needs and behaviors. For example, described in the previous article cocooning. Cocooning is absorbing people tired of absence of stability and sense of security. People shrink their social circle attempting to insulate themselves from the harmful or terrifying reality. Pressure and anxiety have a different application in working life processes and environment. Management and HR start to pay more attention to their workers' well-being. They produce new programs to provide employees with rest. Sweden, for example, conducts an experiment of shortening the working day from 8 to 6 hours. Privately, companies employ exercising breaks, gym memberships, or playrooms in the office.
Simultaneously, the digital world is catching up to the trend offering almost unlimited choice of apps to improve user's well-being. Apps feature different techniques from data gathering and recommendations to relaxing videos and daily antianxiety experiments. Another popular direction is self-acupuncture for stress control and relief. Some companies started to utilize stress control apps to their operating system. Namely, iPhone helps users' to track their sleeping habits, and Apple's iWatch has a breathing app motivating the user to have a mindful minute using several breathing techniques. Next, we will see those techniques traveling to an immersive world, as well as a development of medication to cure, stop, or prevent, anxiety, stress, and depression.
Current lifestyle and media influence give birth to new habits. First, the normalization of fatigue and stress. Second, the ways to fight them. Those trends will enlarge simultaneously creating a new niche of business and influencing the perception of the world. Nevertheless, the circle should close once the global economic development goes on the rising. We shouldn't forget that developing societies will most probably have the same symptoms of mental stability as States and Europe.