The United States is the most stressed-out nation on Earth, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The government agency reports that 18% of Americans suffer from some sort of anxiety disorder. In contrast, people from developing countries (such as Nigeria, for example) are about five times less likely to suffer from stress and anxiety, despite the fact that they have much more to worry about when it comes to meeting their basic needs. Interestingly, when people from those countries immigrate to America, they become just as anxious as the rest of us.
Taylor Clark, author of Nerve: Poise Under Pressure, Serenity Under Stress, and the Brave New Science of Fear and Cool, believes that there are three interconnected reasons for this:
- America doesn’t have the sense of community that many other cultures have,
- We communicate far more via text and social networking than we do face-to-face
- We’re simply absorbing too much information.
“But even worse,” Clark writes, “this avalanche of data is increasingly of the alarmist, fear-igniting variety. Quoting worry researcher Evelyn Behar, he writes, “We live in a culture where fear is used to motivate us.”