Article

Is anxiety/depression increasing among 5-25 year-olds? A cross-sectional prevalence study in Ontario, Canada, 1997-2017

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Abstract

Background : Self-reported data and media suggest youth mental health is declining. To more objectively measure this, we conducted a population-wide investigation of changes in diagnosed point prevalences of anxiety/depression among children and young adults between 1997 and 2017 in Ontario, Canada. Methods : All Ontarians (population approximately 14 million) age 5-25 in each index year were included and grouped as follows: 5-10, 11-15, 16-20, 21-25. As the Canadian medical system is public and universal, all diagnoses can be tracked via billing submissions. The outcome of interest was non-psychotic anxiety/depression diagnosed by any physician in any setting. Using regression analyses, cross-sectional administrative (billing) data for 1997, 2002, 2007, 2012 and 2017 for diagnoses of anxiety/depression were linked to indicators of sex, household income, rurality, and immigrant/refugee status. Outcomes : Point prevalence of anxiety/depression diagnoses increased with age (girls 2•1 to 16•9%, boys 2•9 to 10•6%), particularly from age 11 to 20. Rates, overall, remained stable until 2012 then rose among 11-15 and 16-20 year-olds. This pattern varied by sex. An earlier inverse association with rural residency disappeared by 2017, while immigrant status aligned increasingly with absence of diagnosed anxiety/depression. Lowest household income quintile was associated with higher prevalence of diagnoses. Limitations : Cross-sectional data preclude hypothesising about causes of observed shifts. Conclusion : We found no overall upsurge in youth anxiety/depression, although small increments between 2012 and 2017, and variability with sociodemographic characteristics suggest a possible looming trend and the merit of studying concomitant and potential explanatory shifts in social circumstances.

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... Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental disorder (Phillips & Yu, 2021). Reports suggest 1 in 10 Canadians access health services for anxiety disorders each year and it has been "estimated that 2.4 million Canadians aged 15 years and older reported symptoms compatible with generalized anxiety disorder during their life time" (McRae et al., 2016a;Pelletier et al., 2017). ...
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Introduction In a recent child health research priority setting exercise conducted in Alberta (CA), youth identified “mental health” as a priority topic. Specifically, youth were interested in understanding what the early signs and symptoms of anxiety were, and when they should seek help. Objective The objective of this study was to understand what information is currently available online for Canadian youth about the signs and symptoms of anxiety, what resources are available for self-assessment, and what are youth’s behaviors, experiences and information needs around seeking help for anxiety. Methods We conducted a systematic environmental scan of Internet resources and academic literature. Internet and literature search results (Information Sources) were screened by one reviewer and verified by another. Relevant information (e.g., self-assessment resource features and population characteristics such as age, presence of anxiety, and education) were then extracted and verified. Information Sources were categorized relating to the research concepts regarding; signs and symptoms, self-assessments, information needs and experiences. We complimented our environmental scan with youth consultations to understand how anxiety resources are perceived by youth, and what if anything, could be improved about the information they are receiving. Consultations were conducted over Zoom with three Canadian Youth Advisory Groups (2 provincial, 1 national) and took a semi-structured focus group format. Results A total of 99 Information Sources (62 addressing signs and symptoms, 18 self-assessment resources, and 19 reporting on information and help-seeking behaviors) met the inclusion criteria. The majority of Information Sources on signs and symptoms were webpage-based articles, and 36 (58%) specifically stated that they were targeting youth. 72% of anxiety self-assessment resources were provided by private institutions. The resources varied markedly in the post-assessment support provided to youth according to their source (i.e. private, academic, governmental). Regarding information and help-seeking preferences, three main themes were apparent and related to 1) obtaining in-person professional help, 2) searching for online help, and 3) stigma associated with seeking help for anxiety disorders. The Youth Group consultations identified several areas that need to be considered when developing resources for youth. The key considerations highlighted by youth across the consultations suggested resources needed to be; youth friendly, align with a credible institute (e.g. University, Health Institution), and provide useful resources post online assessment and tangible action items to support help seeking. Conclusion Awareness of the information and resources available to youth, coupled with an understanding of their help-seeking behaviors and information needs can help support the development and dissemination of appropriate knowledge translation tools around youth anxiety.
... Anxiety has been steadily increasing, particularly in the adolescent and young adult populations in the past 24 years [1]. The economic cost of anxiety in the 1990's in the United States was estimated to range from $42.3 billion to $46.6 billion [2,3]. ...
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... Anxiety has been steadily increasing, particularly in the adolescent and young adult populations in the past 24 years [1]. The economic cost of anxiety in the 1990's in the United States was estimated to range from $42.3 billion to $46.6 billion [2,3]. ...
Preprint
Background and objectivesMusic and auditory beat stimulation (ABS) in the theta frequency range (4-7 Hz) are sound-based anxiety treatments that have been independently investigated in prior studies. Here, the anxiety-reducing potential of calm music combined with theta ABS was examined in a large sample of participants. Methods An open-label randomized controlled trial was conducted with participants taking anxiolytics (n = 163). Participants were randomly assigned using the Qualtrics randomizer algorithm, to a single session of sound-based treatment in one of four parallel arms: combined (music & ABS; n = 39), music-alone (n = 36), ABS-alone (n = 41), or pink noise (control; n = 47). Pre- and post-intervention somatic and cognitive state anxiety measures were collected along with trait anxiety, personality measures and musical preferences. The study was completed online using a custom application.Results Based on trait anxiety scores participants were separated into moderate and high trait anxiety sub-groups. Among participants with moderate trait anxiety, we observed reductions in somatic anxiety that were greater in combined and music-alone conditions than in the pink noise condition; and reductions in cognitive state anxiety that were greater in the combined condition than in the music-alone, ABS-alone, and pink noise conditions. While we also observed reductions in somatic and cognitive state anxiety in participants with high trait anxiety, the conditions were not well differentiated. Conclusions Sound-based treatments are effective in reducing somatic and cognitive state anxiety. For participants with moderate trait anxiety, combined conditions were most efficacious.
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