One in five 18-34-year-olds admit to having cried in the past week because of anxiety, according to a poll for the mental health charity Mind, while four in five say they put on a brave face when anxious.
The charity has launched a free guide for people of all ages on how to cope with stress and anxiety, and says crying is a common and useful response to the problem.
Women are three times more likely than men to have cried because of anxiety in the past week, and twice as likely to say they felt better for having cried, according to the poll of 2,063 adults.
Women are twice as likely to hide in the toilets at work if they feel anxious, and half of women turn to comfort eating to cope, compared with two-fifths of men.
The poll also found that one in four 18 to 34-year-olds feel that showing their emotions is a sign of weakness, compared with one in 10 people over the age of 55. Older adults are generally more resilient, with two-fifths of those in the over-55 category saying it has been longer than a year since they cried because of anxiety, or that they have never cried due to anxiety.
Mind said: “Anxiety has now become level with depression as one of the most common reasons for calls to Mind’s Infoline. In 2014/15 alone there were 6,087 calls about anxiety and panic attacks, which accounted for nearly one in six of all calls.
“Perhaps most worryingly, only half of people polled agreed that anxiety could be a mental health problem. In fact, nearly one in twenty people currently experiences anxiety on its own and one in 10 has mixed anxiety and depression.”
Paul Farmer, Mind’s chief executive, said: “Many of us lead busy, stressful lives and sometimes it can feel like things are spiralling out of control. Although it may seem tempting to put on a brave face, it really is OK to cry. It’s time for us all to stop holding back the tears and reach out for support.”