Social anxiety affects millions of people. In the United States alone, 40 million adults above the age of 18 are affected. The disorder costs the United States 42 billion dollar per year. Social anxiety affects every culture around the world. However, according to epidemiological studies that were done over the years, some cultures have lower social anxiety rates than others. How do different cultures affect the rate of social anxiety?
The culture of the United States and the many subcultures within it are excellent examples. Many people in the United States are working towards achieving the “American Dream”. This includes the idea that money is the key to happiness, and to be successful, one must appear successful (big house, fancy car, etc). However, especially in recent times, it has proved difficult to achieve the “American Dream”. This has been a cause of anxiety among many people. We, as a culture, have been told all our lives that to be happy is to be successful. When it does not work out in the way we want, there is often a feeling of anxiety and insecurity, not just inwardly, but outwardly as well. We worry how others will view us.
These issues do not affect other cultures the way it affects the culture of the United States. For example, in Japan, although the same desire to be successful may exist, the rate of social anxiety in Japan is found to be 0.8%, whereas in the United States, it is 7.9%. The large difference can be caused by a number of reasons, one being that here in the United States, we are conditioned to believe that success is the “end all be all” to life.
Hofmann, Stefan G., Anu Asnaani, and Devon E. Hinton. “Cultural Aspects in Social Anxiety and Social Anxiety Disorder.” Depression and Anxiety. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 27 Dec. 2010. Web. 21 Feb. 2016.