New Study Says 72 Percent of People With Anxiety Recover

A new study says that with social support and spirituality, you can fully recover from an anxiety disorder.

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Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in the U.S. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety affects 40 million adults in the country, which is more than 18 percent of the population. Those who battle it know that, at its worst, anxiety can be debilitating, and it can feel like there's no end in sight. But a new study in the Journal of Affective Disorders says that recovering from anxiety is completely possible. The key is having someone to lean on and finding your spirituality.

Researchers at the University of Toronto examined a nationally representative sample of 2,128 Canadian adults with a history of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and found that 72 percent of them had been anxiety-free for at least one year. Almost 60 percent of participants said they had no other mental health or addiction issues, such as substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, or depression. In fact, 40 percent said they were in a state of "excellent" mental health, meaning that in the last month, they felt happy on an almost daily basis and felt high levels of social and psychological well-being. They also experienced freedom from any mental health issues in the past year.

The researchers found a few defining factors in those who reported feeling completely anxiety-free. Firstly, people who had at least one person they could confide in about their illness were three times more likely to be in excellent mental health than those who did not. "The social support that extends from a confidant can foster a sense of belonging and self-worth, which may promote recovery," Kandace Ryckman, co-author of the study, said in a statement.

According to the study's lead author Esme Fuller-Thomson, the director of the University of Toronto's Institute for Life Course and Aging, the findings suggest that "full recovery is possible, even among those who have suffered for many years with the disorder."

She noted their results also prove that there's "a strong link between recovery from mental illness and belief in a higher power." Among the participants, those who turned to religion or spirituality to cope with everyday difficulties were 36 percent more likely to have excellent mental health than those who did not.

Some of the other factors that seemed to hurt mental health were a history of insomnia, social isolation, and poor physical health.

This new study proves that anxiety is a highly treatable disorder. But unfortunately, many people avoid getting professional help due to the social stigma around mental illness. Hopefully, these findings will inspire anyone who might be dealing with anxiety on their own to seek help, confide in those close to them, and find something to connect with spiritually. That could be all they need to fully recover.

Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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