Too many people are putting on a brave face when anxious, as Mind says 'It's OK to cry!'
Research from Mind has found that four in five 18 to 34 year olds put on a brave face when they are anxious, according to the mental health charity Mind. Despite this one in five admitted to crying in the past week because of anxiety. Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems and Mind says crying is actually both a common and useful response to dealing with it. The charity is today launching a free guide to help people better understand how to cope with stress and anxiety.
The Mind poll¹ also revealed that a quarter of 18 to 34 year olds feel that showing their emotions is a sign of weakness. This attitude towards emotion and anxiety stands in stark contrast with older adults, with only one in ten people over the age of 55 believing that showing emotion is a sign of weakness. In fact, older adults appear generally more resilient, with two fifths of people over 55 saying it has been longer than a year since they cried because of anxiety, or that they have never cried due to anxiety.
Gender also played a big role in responses to anxiety. Women are three times more likely than men to have cried because of anxiety in the last week, but they were also twice as likely to feel better for having cried. Women were also twice as likely to hide in the toilets at work if they felt anxious and half of women said they would eat more if they felt anxious compared to two fifths of men.
Perhaps most worryingly, only half of people polled agreed that anxiety could be a mental health problem. In fact, nearly one in twenty people currently experiences anxiety on its own and one in ten has mixed anxiety and depression. Anxiety has now become level with depression as the most common reason for calls to Mind’s Infoline. In 2014/15 alone there were 6,087 calls about anxiety and panic attacks, which accounted for nearly one in six of all calls.
If the symptoms of anxiety – such as feeling tense and restless, breathing rapidly and getting light headed, or having persistent negative thoughts – aren’t addressed and become severe, they can have a serious impact on day to day life. Problems sleeping, lowered immune system and depression can all develop as a knock-on effect and can get to the point that it becomes difficult to hold down a job, maintain relationships or take pleasure in life.
Mind is urging people to respond to symptoms of anxiety in themselves or those around them by texting ‘ANXIETY’ to 70660 to receive a free copy of ‘Your guide to stress and anxiety’ or visit mind.org.uk/getyourguide.
Juliette Burton, 30, is a writer and performer who has experienced anxiety since she was very young. She said: ‘I have lots of ways of coping with my anxiety, but sometimes I find the best way is simply to be in touch with what I’m feeling at that moment and have a good cry about it. Just having a good sob can help me accept my anxiety and move forward.’
Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, said:
“Many of us lead busy, stressful lives and sometimes it can feel like things are spiralling out of control. Although it might seem tempting to put on a brave face, it really is OK to cry. It’s time for us all to stop holding back the tears and reach out for support. Responding to symptoms early is vital so that they don’t become more serious and complicated. There are simple steps we can all take to manage our anxiety and one of these is to text ‘ANXIETY’ to 70660 to receive your free Mind guide. As well as explaining what anxiety looks and feels like it also tells you exactly what you can do to tackle it.”
¹ Polling was conducted by Populus who interviewed 2,063 GB adults online between 8 and 10 May 2015
Stats on age:
Four fifths of 18 to 34 year olds feel they have to put on a brave face when they are anxious (79 per cent)
A fifth of 18 to 34 year olds have cried in the past week because of anxiety (20 per cent)
A quarter of 18 to 34 year olds feel that showing their emotions is a sign of weakness (27 per cent)
One in ten people over the age of 55 consider showing emotion is a sign of weakness (10 per cent)
Two fifths of people over 55 saying either it has been longer than a year since they cried because of anxiety, or they have never cried because of anxiety (42 per cent)
Stats on gender:
Women were three times more likely than men to have cried because of anxiety in the last week (18 compared to 6 per cent)
Women were twice as likely as men to feel better for having cried (63 compared to 29 per cent)
Women were also twice as likely as men to hide in the toilets at work if they felt anxious (36 compared to 15 per cent)
Half of women said they would eat more if they felt anxious compared to two fifths of men (51 compared to 42 per cent)