What is Anxiety
Anxiety is a normal emotional response to a real or perceived stressful situation and brings a feeling of apprehension, dread or fear. It can produce physiological changes in the body, fearful or negative thoughts and can cause changes in behaviour. Anxiety is an internal response to a stressful situation. When one reacts with fear to a stressful event and worries about that event or its consequences, they are experiencing anxiety. Most people experience anxiety in some form or another in their lifetime and it is usually temporary.
Definition of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety Disorders occur when one has recurring, repetitive and persistent anxious thoughts which are overwhelming and cause disruption to daily living and functioning. Anxiety usually persists for months even if there is no apparent reason when one is experiencing an Anxiety Disorder. A person with an anxiety disorder tends to catastrophize the anxiety provoking situation by imagining and believing the worst possible thing will happen. They use emotional reasoning as a thinking style when anxious by falsely believing that a feeling is reality. People with anxiety disorders experience a change in physiological symptoms in their body have a range of negative thoughts and make changes to their behaviour i.e., start to avoid the place that they fear. The main types of Anxiety Disorders are listed below with a description of each.
Prevalence of AD and Mental Health in Hong Kong
Anxiety Disorders affect about 18% (40 million) of the American adult population in a given year (Kessler et al 2005). Unfortunately we do not have an accurate measure of the percentage of the population struggling with Anxiety Disorders and OCD in HK as there is huge stigma associated with mental health disorders forcing individuals to suffer in silence and deny problems exist.
A study conducted by Chung & Wong (2009) on the experiences of stigma amongst Chinese mental health patients in Hong Kong supports that individuals fear outside stigma. They found that 64% of patients felt that they had to keep their disorder a secret to protect against stigma and rejection. When applying for jobs or filling out application forms, 52.5% of mental health sufferers leave out any information on mental health or reply no history of mental health in fear of discrimination.
In Hong Kong, discrimination against mental health is regarded as unlawful (Disability Discrimination Ordinance, cap 487). However, 20% of complaints have been mental health related.