Image: Mariana Zanatta -

While to epidemiologists anxiety and depression are medical conditions, anxiety is starting to seem like a sociological condition, too, according to an article by Alex Williams in the New York Times.

The condition is describes as “a shared cultural experience that feeds on alarmist CNN graphics and metastasizes through social media. As depression was to the 1990s — summoned forth by Kurt Cobain, ‘Listening to Prozac,’ Seattle fog and Temple of the Dog dirges on MTV, viewed from under a flannel blanket — so it seems we have entered a new Age of Anxiety.”

Williams says according to data from the National Institute of Mental Health, some 38 percent of girls ages 13 through 17, and 26 percent of boys, have an anxiety disorder. “On college campuses, anxiety is running well ahead of depression as the most common mental health concern, according to a 2016 national study of more than 150,000 students by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Pennsylvania State University. Meanwhile, the number of web searches involving the term has nearly doubled over the last five years, according to Google Trends. (The trendline for “depression” was relatively flat.)”

He says the “we have no secrets here” ethos of online discourse has helped bring anxiety into the open, and allowed its clinical sufferers to band together in a virtual up-therapy setting.

He quotes author Scott Stossel as saying: “Every generation, going back to Periclean Greece, to second century Rome, to the Enlightenment, to the Georgians and to the Victorians, believes itself to be the most anxious age ever,” Mr. Stossel said.

“That said, the Americans of 2017 can make a pretty strong case that they are gold medalists in the Anxiety Olympics,” writes Williams.

Read the full article here.