The Most Common Mental Health Problem

The factors that predict recovery from the most common mental health problem.

The factors that predict recovery from the most common mental health problem.

Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental illness.

However, a study provides hope for recovery for those with anxiety disorders.

Fully 72 percent of people with a history of an anxiety disorder were free of it in the last 12 months, the research reveals.

On top of that, 40 percent were in excellent mental health and 60 percent had no other mental health problems.

A key to recovery from anxiety disorders is having at least one person to confide in.

This provides a sense of wellbeing and security which can triple the chance of recovery, researchers found.

Professor Esme Fuller-Thomson, the study’s first author, said:

“We were so encouraged to learn that even among those whose anxiety disorders had lasted a decade or longer, half had been in remission from GAD for the past year and one-quarter had achieved excellent mental health and well-being.”

The conclusions come from a group of 2,128 Canadians who had Generalised Anxiety Disorder at some point in their lives.

Professor Fuller-Thomson says the results are hopeful:

“This research provides a very hopeful message for individuals struggling with anxiety, their families and health professionals.

Our findings suggest that full recovery is possible, even among those who have suffered for many years with the disorder.”

People found it harder to recover from anxiety if they were depressed, had a history of substance misuse or had insomnia.

However, they were more likely to recover when married and having someone they could share their experience with.

Ms Kandace Ryckman, study co-author, said:

“For those with anxiety disorders, the social support that extends from a confidant can foster a sense of belonging and self-worth which may promote recover.”

Spiritual or religious beliefs also increased the chance of recovery by 36 percent.

Professor Fuller-Thomson said:

“Other researchers have also found a strong link between recovery from mental illness and belief in a higher power.”

The study was published in the Journal of Affective Disorders (Fuller-Thomson et al., 2019).

Author: Jeremy Dean

Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology. He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book "Making Habits, Breaking Habits" (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks.

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