How Common Are Anxiety Disorders?

As a group, anxiety disorders represent the most common of all mental illnesses. Population based surveys provide various estimates of how common anxiety disorders are in the population. One Ontario study2 estimated that 12% of adults between 15 and 64 years of age—9% of men and 16% of women—had experienced an anxiety disorder during the 12 months prior to the survey. The US National Comorbidity Survey (2001–2003) estimated that 18.1% of adults 18 years of age and over had an anxiety disorder in the 12 months preceding the survey.

According to Statistics Canada’s 2002 Mental Health and Well-being Survey (Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), Cycle 1.2), 4.7% of Canadians 15 years of age and over reported symptoms that met the criteria for one of the following anxiety disorders in the previous 12 months: 1.6% panic disorder; 0.7%agoraphobia; and 3.0% social anxiety disorder. Over 1 in 10 adults (11.5%) reported symptoms that met the criteria for having had one of these anxiety disorders during their lifetime: 3.7% panic disorder; 1.5% agoraphobia; and 8.1% social anxiety disorder.

Earlier Canadian studies estimated the prevalence of various anxiety disorders during a one-year period among individuals between the ages of 15 and 64 years:
1.1% had generalized anxiety disorder;
6.2%–8.0% had specific phobia;
6.7% had social phobia;
1.8% had obsessive compulsive disorder and
0.7% had panic disorder.

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