Anxiety is being called the disease of the 21st century. Everybody seems to be either afflicted - or knows someone who is. According to the World Health Organization, disorders related to "dread" are the most prevalent mental illness on the globe at the moment.
Some of us shriek at spiders, others have panic attacks that flare up out of nowhere and mimic the symptoms of heart failure. Still others worry excessively about everything and nothing – violent crime, cancer, terrorism, black bears, tornadoes. For some, that anxiety is just a mild unease; for others, it's a paralyzing fear.
Is anxiety a disease of modernity, or is our highly competitive and material culture itself undermining our nerves? THE AGE OF ANXIETY examines this phenomenon, and how anxiety is being re-defined by the medical community and the pharmaceutical industry.
The publication of the next Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)– the diagnostic "bible" for psychiatrists – is anticipated for early 2013. This is the first revision in over a decade. Already a year behind schedule, the highly criticized DSM-V is about to set new definitions for anxiety disorders. Will the broadened criteria for anxiety, prescription happy GPs and a hectic society turn us all into mental health patients? THE AGE OF ANXIETY features interviews with both the former and current chairmen of the DSM addressing these issues.
Producer Ric Esther Bienstock
Says producer, Ric Esther Bienstock, "The medical definition of what constitutes an anxiety disorder is expanding to include so many aspects of normal human behaviour that we're in danger of turning half the population into psychiatric patients. The way things are headed, getting an anti-anxiety prescription will be easier than getting a driver's license. You want to talk crazy – THAT'S crazy! I'm getting anxious just thinking about it. Doesn't mean I should get a prescription."
Featuring interviews with leading experts in the field of psychiatry, THE AGE OF ANXIETY investigates the role that pharmaceutical companies, and even the psychiatric profession, play in this phenomenon. Is our anxiety fueling an industry that in turn is profiting from and exploiting our dread in a vicious and self-perpetuating cycle?
THE AGE OF ANXIETY is produced by Ric Esther Bienstock (Sex Slaves, Penn & Teller's Magic and Mystery Tour) and written and directed by Scott Harper (Lost Adventures of Childhood).