America's Anxiety Problem

Anxiety in America has increased dramatically, at least that is what a recent federal survey reports. 27% of those who responded to the survey indicated that they had symptoms of an anxiety disorder. That’s up from just 8% in 2019 according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Further, emergency room visits for mental health related matters among youth have gone up dramatically. In fact, one study indicated that approximately half of people ages 18 to 24 have reported symptoms of anxiety or depression. To illustrate, you may recall that two young and highly competitive athletes, gymnast Simone Biles, and tennis star Naomi Osaka have both previously withdrawn from competitions because of their battles with anxiety.

The Mayo Clinic provides a list of signs and symptoms that include, but are not limited to, feeling nervous, feeling a sense of impending danger or panic, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating, and trouble concentrating. Most people have probably experienced one or more of these symptoms at one time or another. Subsequently, anxiety relief has become a booming business. According to an article from August in The Wall Street Journal, “A search for ‘anxiety relief’ on Google pulls up links for supplements in the form of pills, patches, gummies, and mouth sprays. There are vibrating devices that hang around your neck and ‘tone your vagus nerve,’ weighted stuffed animals, bead-filled stress balls and coloring books that claim to bring calm. Ads for online talk therapy apps pop up on social-media sites.” The article went on to suggest that Americans are becoming almost desperate in their quest for anxiety support, and you might even say, many are becoming anxious about their anxieties.

Where is this uptick in anxiety coming from? Some point to the pandemic as the primary culprit. Without a doubt it is a factor, especially since studies show that depression and anxiety support spiked after the pandemic hit. Columnist Andy Kessler put it this way, “Global pandemics are scary, but did we really need to pile on bad policy that amplified anxiety? Lockdowns, school closings, double masks and face shields, parents wiping down groceries, social distancing, canceled parties, closed churches, mandatory vaccination—all made anxiety worse. This scared everyone and led to an overload of screen-based activities like Zoom, Netflix and videogames that force dopamine dependence on young minds and eliminated important and calming social cues a generation may never learn.”

And then there are a host of other new crazy cultural dysfunctions that stress a conformity to confusion causing anxiety. I don’t have space to talk about them all but let me give you a couple of examples. Everything you say is now scrutinized to detect hidden “microagressions”. Master bedrooms we are told must now be referred to as “primary” bedrooms otherwise we are microagressors. We now have pronoun anxiety where people are told to choose carefully how they identify others lest they be labeled oppressors and be guilty of “microagressions” or special privilege. CNN and The New York Times have both advanced “Neopronouns.” In a 2021 article The Times produced “A Guide to Neopronouns: Are you a person, place, or thing?” I am not kidding! Then there is what you might call extinction anxiety… as one Congresswoman told us that if we do not all go “green”, life on our planet will be extinct in 12 years… we are already several years into her prediction… we’ll see.

I could go on, confusion reigns-- tampons in men’s bathrooms, porn in elementary school libraries, new pandemic threats, cancel culture, and threats of global war! No wonder anxiety is rampant. So, what’s the solution to anxiety? It’s not complicated… Jesus is the answer. Only Jesus can bring lasting peace to the anxious heart… “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7); “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” (John 14:1); “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27) Yes, America has an anxiety problem, but you don’t have to!  Get up close to Jesus and remember that God is always trying to take you someplace new. I love being your Pastor!

For God’s Glory Alone,
Pastor Ray

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