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Mental health problem surge reported

Many Britons are suffering from a spiral of anxiety that is fanning the flames of the economic crisis and fuelling a surge in mental health problems, experts say.

More and more people believe the world is a far more frightening place than it used to be, according to a new report from the Mental Health Foundation.

The organisation said the downturn is partly being driven by fear as emotion overrides logical thinking, explaining: "Individuals and institutions - keen to protect themselves - are now too afraid to lend, spend and invest, despite the fact that these actions could assist in ending the recession."

The number of people suffering from anxiety disorders in the UK has risen by around 800,000 compared to 1993.

Official figures show more than seven million people in the UK (15% of the population) had an anxiety-related mental health disorder in 2007, compared with 13.3% in 1993.

Of the 2,246 adults surveyed, 77% believed the world had become a more frightening place in the last decade.

Increased anxiety has been linked to health problems, including coronary heart disease and high blood pressure. The condition is also known to aggravate gastrointestinal problems, arthritis, migraine, allergies, thyroid disease and chronic respiratory disorders such as asthma.

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Mental Health Foundation