Four in 5 18-34-year-olds put on a brave face when they are anxious, although 1 in 5 admit to crying in the past week because of anxiety, according to a poll by mental health charity Mind.
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems and Mind says crying is a common and useful response to dealing with it. The charity has launched a free guide to help people better understand how to cope with stress and anxiety.
Mind’s poll of 2,063 adults, conducted by Populus, also revealed that a quarter of 18-34-year-olds feel that showing their emotions is a sign of weakness. This attitude towards emotion and anxiety stands in contrast with older adults, with only 1 in 10 people over the age of 55 believing that showing emotion is a sign of weakness. In fact, older adults appear generally more resilient, with two fifths of people over 55 saying it has been longer than a year since they cried because of anxiety, or that they have never cried due to anxiety.
Gender also played a big role in responses to anxiety. Women are three times more likely than men to have cried because of anxiety in the last week, but they were also twice as likely to feel better for having cried. Women were also twice as likely to hide in the toilets at work if they felt anxious and half of women said they would eat more if they felt anxious compared to two fifths of men.
Perhaps most worryingly, only half of people polled agreed that anxiety could be a mental health problem. In fact, nearly 1 in 20 people currently experiences anxiety and 1 in 10 has mixed anxiety and depression.
Anxiety is now level with depression as the most common reason for calls to Mind’s Infoline. In 2014/15 there were 6,087 calls about anxiety and panic attacks, which accounted for nearly 1 in 6 calls.
If the symptoms of anxiety – such as feeling tense and restless, breathing rapidly and getting light headed, or having persistent negative thoughts – aren’t addressed and become severe they can have a serious impact on day-to-day life. Problems sleeping, lowered immune system and depression can all develop as a knock-on effect and can get to the point that it becomes difficult to hold down a job, maintain relationships or take pleasure in life.
Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: “Many of us lead busy, stressful lives and sometimes it can feel like things are spiralling out of control. Although it might seem tempting to put on a brave face, it really is OK to cry. It’s time for us all to stop holding back the tears and reach out for support. Responding to symptoms early is vital so that they don’t become more serious and complicated.”
To receive a free copy of Mind’s ‘Your guide to stress and anxiety’ text ‘ANXIETY’ to 70660 or visit mind.org.uk/getyourguide.