Whether it’s concern over personal relationships, world affairs and politics, feeling overworked and not taking time off, or worry over financial difficulties, the stress level of Americans increased significantly for the first time in 10 years in 2017.

Nearly one in five Americans (18 percent) has an anxiety disorder characterized by symptoms ranging from panic, fear, nausea, and dizziness to trouble sleeping and heart palpitations.

While anxiety may be temperamental, meaning someone suffering from an anxiety disorder may not always be experiencing these symptoms, other related mental concerns like depression and suicide are also rising across the country. To understand one of the most prevalent ways Americans discuss what’s on their minds today, we studied over 1.2 million Instagram posts tagged #ANXIETY and utilized IBM’s Watson computer analysis to understand which parts of the country are experiencing the most anxiety, and where they are when those anxious emotions strike. Read on to see what we discovered.

The Anxious State Of The Nation

There are a number of external forces that could be contributing to anxiety in America. Research suggests stress from work or school, financial difficulties, and even medications or drug use could be contributing factors to feelings of anxiousness. According to our research, Oregon could be the most anxious state in the country. With over 52 posts for every 100,000 residents tagged with #ANXIETY, it’s worth noting that Oregon is one of only seven states (not including Washington D.C.) that have legalized recreational use of marijuana in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), marijuana use has been linked to depression and anxiety, particularly in young adults and teenagers.

Other states with frequent use of the #ANXIETY tag online included Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York. Ohio and Pennsylvania currently have one of the highest populations of unemployment in the country, and New York  has one of the most expensive places to live anywhere in America, even if the wages aren’t increasing too. In 2016, one study found that most Americans were more worried about financial difficulties than the year prior, with more than two in five people concerned they wouldn’t be able to cover their monthly expenses, and more than one in five afraid they might not be able to make minimum payments on their credit cards.

Closing The Gender Gap

Our study found that more than half of Americans sharing #ANXIETY posts through social media were women.

While the effects of anxiety can be felt by anyone regardless of age, gender, or race, research has shown women are scientifically more prone to be impacted by mental illness as a result of brain chemistry and hormonal fluctuations. These physical components can affect the way women manage stressful situations and the way they approach treatment options.

While some studies may suggest women are up to twice as likely to develop anxiety disorders, we found that more than 45 percent of all #ANXIETY posts online were shared by men. Men suffering from mental illness (including anxiety) may face the added challenge of stigma when it comes to discussing the symptoms of their conditions and are more likely to stay silent when plagued by thoughts of suicide or depression.

Where Anxiety Occurs

So where are most Americans when they experience the symptoms of anxiety? According to our study, more than 14 percent of #ANXIETY posts were shared from their home or apartment.

While nearly nine percent of posts were shared at work or an office and almost eight percent of posts were shared from a school, the reality is the effects of anxiety can occur virtually anywhere. Certain types of anxiety disorders (including panic attacks) can make you suddenly feel as if you’re in physical danger even though you may be in the comfort of your own home. Panic attacks can make you feel nauseous, dizzy, or numb and may happen randomly at any time.

For Americans feeling anxious in the workplace, there are a number of elements you might be able to identify that add stress to your work day – and certain tips and tricks (like openly communicating about your stress or even seeking professional treatment) on how to manage them might help reduce the feeling of #ANXIETY you feel in the office.

Getting To The Heart Of The Issue

How Americans experience (and cope with) the symptoms of anxiety can change from person to person and even from state to state.

Beyond the emotional impact of anxiety, stress and panic can affect your physical health as well. A person suffering from anxiety may experience headaches, muscle tension, chest pains, and fatigue without necessarily realizing their symptoms as a byproduct of mental and behavioral health concerns. Other common ways anxiety can impact a person’s general behavior include trouble at work, relationship problems, and even substance abuse. If left untreated, general anxiety disorder can evolve into other, more serious mental conditions including panic disorders and phobias.

We utilized IBM’s Watson computer analysis to help understand the full context of online posts regarding #ANXIETY. According to our study, people sharing posts from states including Minnesota, Washington, and Iowa online had the most negative sentiment about their stress and panic.

Finding Reprieve From Anxiety

While some states regarded their #ANXIETY posts with a more negative sentiment, Watson’s computer analysis indicated that posts from other states seemed to be coping with their concerns more positively.

Depending on the extent of your anxiety, there are some steps you can take to help keep the symptoms under control. Research has shown that outdoor activities, a better sleep routine, and social support are just a few of the ways people can help reduce the impact of anxiety on their daily lives. Not getting enough sleep can trigger anxiety or anxiety attacks, and if you struggle to fall asleep at night consider taking a few minutes each day to write out the things that could be bothering you (and how to address them) to get them off your mind when it’s time for bed.

According to our research and Watson’s analysis, states including Kansas, Arizona, and Michigan had the strongest positive sentiment towards #ANXIETY based on the full context of their Instagram posts.

A Healthier Brain

For most Americans, some level of anxiety is a part of normal life. Some level of symptoms may come and go based on the things in our lives that could be causing us stress. From hectic personal lives to our demanding work schedules and routines, stress and anxiety can happen to anyone. If you experience these symptoms more regularly or they start to feel overwhelming, you could be one of almost 40 million Americans who suffer from anxiety disorders every year.

At Neurocore, we use 21st century science and technology to understand the underlying cause of the symptoms at their core – the brain. The way Americans experience conditions like anxiety, ADHD, depression, and sleep can be entirely different, and addressing the symptoms deserves a personalized approach based on you. Our comprehensive diagnostic assessment and our brain training program may help you train your brain and learn to take control of the symptoms that are affecting you. To learn more, or to schedule your free consultation today, visit us online at NeurocoreCenters.com now.

Methodology

We scraped Instagram for 1,271,187 geotagged posts containing #anxiety. For sentiment related analysis, we used a tool from IBM Watson that gauges the positive and negative sentiment of blocks of text. We ran the associated posts through this tool and calculated a score for each post, which we then averaged out across individual states.

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