Government policy has a role to play when it comes to dealing with rising anxiety levels

Anxiety can be good for you. It is part of the “fight or flight” reflex triggered in the presence of danger. The amygdala, the brain’s alarm system, is responsible for generating negative emotions. To prevent them flooding the brain, this part of the limbic system must be quiet. Working hard on non-emotional mental tasks inhibits the amygdala which is why keeping busy is often said to be one source of happiness. Keeping busy is not what the anxious and depressed can do – and so a cycle of misery is locked into place.

In England, new figures released last week revealed that misery appears to be escalating at an alarming scale. Prescriptions for 64.7 million items of antidepressants – an all-time high – were dispensed in 2016, the most recent annual data from NHS Digital showed. This is a staggering 108.5% increase on the 31 million antidepressants dispensed 10 years earlier.

While the young have never been better behaved, drinking and smoking less, their levels of anxiety and depression are rising

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Mental health is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of a mental disorder; it is the "psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment".

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