Frequency

Community surveys suggest that 10-15 per cent of the population are significantly affected by anxiety symptoms at any one time, and about 25 per cent will suffer at some stage in their lifetime. However, an exact prevalence is impossible to determine because neurotic symptoms are not qualitatively different from normal experience, and prevalence will depend on the cut-offs in the criteria used.

In medical settings, anxiety is even more common than in the general community. In primary care, anxiety states frequently coexist with mild forms of depression, and it has been questioned whether there is any real distinction between the two. Anxiety, again often mixed with depression, is a significant problem for at least 25 per cent of patients in general hospital wards and clinics.

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