A Report on Mental Illnesses in Canada

  • Anxiety disorders affect 12% of the population, causing mild to severe impairment.
  • For a variety of reasons, many individuals may not seek treatment for their anxiety; they may consider the symptoms mild or normal, or the symptoms themselves may interfere with help-seeking.
  • Anxiety disorders can be effectively treated in the community setting.
  • Hospitalization rates for anxiety disorders in general hospitals are twice as high among women as men.
  • The highest rates of hospitalization for anxiety disorders in general hospitals are among those aged 65 years and over.
  • Since 1987, hospitalization rates for anxiety disorders in general hospitals have decreased by 49%.

What Are Anxiety Disorders?

Individuals with anxiety disorders experience excessive anxiety, fear or worry, causing them either to avoid situations that might precipitate the anxiety or to develop compulsive rituals that lessen the anxiety. Everyone feels anxious in response to specific events - but individuals with an anxiety disorder have excessive and unrealistic feelings that interfere with their lives in their relationships, school and work performance, social activities and recreation.

Types of Anxiety Disorders

Generalized Anixety Disorder (GAD),Social Phobia,Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),Obsessive-compulsive,Disorder (OCD),Specific Phobia,Panic Disorder,Agoraphobia.

How Common Are Anxiety Disorders?

Combined anxiety disorders affect approximately 12% of Canadians: about 9% of men and 16% of women during a one-year period.2 As a group, anxiety disorders represent the most common of all mental illnesses.
Table 4-1 One-Year Prevalence of Anxiety Disorders in Canada.
Type of Anxiety Disorder
Canada (Ages 15-64 years)

% with anxiety disorder 2-4
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Specific Phobia
6.2 - 8.0
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Social Phobia
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Panic Disorder

Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey, 2002, Mental Health and Well-being Cycle 1.2