Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Mental Health Center

Font Size

Americans More Fearful Than Depressed


In fact, a good number of her patients have put therapy on hold -- at least temporarily, she says. "They're realizing that their problems are much smaller than what others are experiencing. I think it's helping people put their lives in perspective. I think we're all doing some examination of our lives and our priorities, how we've lived our lives."

Daniel Creson, MD, PhD, is a psychiatrist and anthropologist at the University of Texas Medical School and School of Public Health in Houston. He's worked in Bosnia, Kosovo -- "complex emergency situations," he tells WebMD.

More than depression, "what I've noticed is a high level of fear, and certainly a great deal of anxiety," says Creson. He's in the process of organizing a conference, and just had two speakers call and cancel because they don't fly anymore. "It's really eerie," he says.

Fear is a normal reaction to new risks, new threats, Creson tells WebMD. But we must put it all into perspective. "Over 40,000 people are killed on the freeways every year. Only one person has died from anthrax."

"We've become used to the everyday risks we live with," he says. "If you go to a country that's been in war for a generation -- like Angola or Sierra Leone -- you find that people have grown used to the risk of war. War is the normal thing."

Should recent terrorist events become the norm, we, too, could likely grow numb to their effects on our daily lives, he says. "But it's not likely to go on. It's going to pass, to die down."

In the meantime, it's important -- for our own mental health -- that we return to our normal routines, Creson says.


Today on WebMD

Hands breaking pencil in frustration
Woman looking out window
woman standing behind curtains
Pet scan depression
Woman standing in grass field barefoot, wind blowi
Plate of half eaten cakes
mother kissing newborn
Woman multitasking
colored pencils
Woman relaxing with a dog

WebMD Special Sections