How anxiety can be useful

J 1947, W. H. Auden published an obscure poem called “The Age of Anxiety” — a title that has resonated through the years as a perfect distillation of the uncertainties of contemporary living. Perhaps we’re hearing that phrase even more often these days, as the United States has come to be known as the most anxious nation on Earth. As of late 2017, almost 20% of American adults had been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder over the preceding year. The lifetime prevalence of anxiety disorders in the American population is even higher, at over 31%. Several studies suggest that anxiety has been on the rise over the past few years, too: the American Psychiatric Association recently released a poll showing that our anxiety increased measurably between 2016 and 2017, and again between 2017 and 2018

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