How anxiety manifests itself across Canada

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In any given year, one in five Canadians will personally experience a mental health problem or illness. By the age of 40, 50 per cent of the population will have or have had a mental illness.

There are a variety of different types of anxiety disorders, such as social anxiety, phobias, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, and with them come different symptoms and manifestations that can range in severity.

Perceived symptoms and manifestations of anxiety disorder
Perceived symptoms and manifestations of anxiety disorder

According to data commissioned by Yahoo Canada Style through Abacus, most Canadians associate anxiety disorders with the symptoms of panic attacks, worry, depression and insomnia — but few think of compulsions, self-harm, nausea or obsessions.

ALSO SEE: Anxiety and wealth: ‘The fact that they’re anxious means that their lives aren’t perfect’

To compare, we asked our readers “How does your anxiety manifest itself?” Here are the results of that poll:


In both polls, self-harm, phobias, compulsions and nausea ranked on the lower end. The symptoms and manifestations of worry and depression were in the top three of both polls.

“Oftentimes we overestimate the likeliness of bad things happening when we’re feeling anxious,” said Dr. Judith Laposa, a clinician scientist and psychologist on the Anxiety Disorders Clinic of the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Division at CAMH. “It can be really quite interfering.”

“About 25 per cent of people in their lifetime will have an anxiety disorder so that makes it one of the most common classes of mental health difficulties,” she explained. “There’s often a misconception around how profoundly anxiety disorders can impact someone’s life.”

To get a better sense of how the people that took the Yahoo poll find their anxiety expresses itself, we asked people to leave comments in the article.

Here are what some people had to say about their own mental illness:


I have general anxiety and social. It manifests with worrying. About everything. Going to the extreme possibility. Even irrational. This constant worrying leads to depression and anxiety attacks. The Social leaves me unable to make new friends and sometimes even work. Both are crippling. Meds help with the worrying and that is getting better. But the social has been getting worse.

ALSO SEE: What is the ‘most severe’ mental illness? 52 per cent of Canadians feel like they don’t know enough to say


I find my anxiety has taken many forms and that it has ebbs and flows….often times it can be debilitating for me and a scary, lonely place to be where it feels like I will never get it under control, feel so misunderstood and hard to find people who can relate and not judge’s LIKE being a prisoner in your own mind.


I can’t breath when I have a panic attack and need to take meds to calm myself down but that can take 1/2 hour and in the 1/2 I feel like I am going through hell. I am confused and don’t know what to do. 90% of my attacks happen while I am sleeping and wake me up afraid and not knowing what to do.

Others advocated for more funding to better understand mental illness and it’s manifestations:


Mental illness has been shunned for far too long. We do need to invest more time and money into understanding all its manifestations. Maybe then we can finally take it “out of the closet” and provide better help for all who suffer from the various types of mental illness.


“By the age of 40, 50 per cent of the population will have or have had a mental illness”. Yet our mental health care system is still embarrassingly lacking. Unless you have extended benefits, your choices are either mind-numbing pills, or paying close to $200 out of pocket per hour to talk it out with someone qualified. What gives?

Do you agree with the findings of the poll? What would you like to see changed in our mental health system?

During the month of October, Yahoo Canada is delving into anxiety and why it’s so prevalent among Canadians. Read more content from our multi-part series here.

Let us know what you think by commenting below and tweeting @YahooStyleCA and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

Abacus Data, a market research firm based in Ottawa, conducted a survey for Yahoo Canada to test public attitudes towards anxiety as a medical condition, including social stigmas and cultural impacts. The study was an online survey of 1,500 Canadians residents, age 18 and over, who responded between Aug. 21 to Sept. 2, 2019. A random sample of panelists were invited to complete the survey from a set of partner panels based on the Lucid exchange platform. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.53%, 19 times out of 20. The data was weighted according to census data to ensure the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region.