The Anxiety Epidemic
by Graham Davey
Robinson

Anxiety has risen to epidemic proportions, rivalling depression as the world’s main mental-health problem. If reading that makes your heart pound, try this book by psychology professor and anxiety expert Graham Davey.

Young Hongkongers are anxious and unhappy: what can we do?

Finger tappers will probably head straight for the “how to manage” chapter. Don’t, he urges. It’s important to understand the causes of the problem before choosing a course of action – which is how this publication differs from the many self-help books on the subject.

Davey explores 21st-century reasons, including social media, of course, and the reality that many make themselves available 24/7. But although environmental factors may have changed, anxiety is nothing new. Also, he argues, no one is a born worrier, although explanations are not always obvious (actor Billy Bob Thornton has no idea why he fears antique furniture).

Davey shows how caffeine may be behind “existential dread” and why Donald Trump’s hostile tweets may be another person’s Xanax.

Interestingly, we see cultural differ­ences in the understanding and treatment of anxiety. In traditional Chinese medicine, the condition is often attributed to organ dysfunction, and “weak kidney” is said to be associated with catastrophic thinking.