Today I will be talking about a few common myths about anxiety. I suffer from generalized anxiety disorder and panic attacks and some days simple tasks such as shopping or even leaving my home feel impossible. Hopefully, discussing these misconceptions helps some people who suffer from anxiety explain to others who just don’t get it.
Okay, let’s go ahead and clear up some common myths.
Myth 1: Anxiety isn’t a real illness. People say this because everybody feels anxious sometimes. This is true people do feel anxious from time to time but just feeling anxious isn’t an anxiety disorder. If you suffer from an anxiety disorder it actually stops you from being able to function in your daily life. That is a real thing and there are days it is just impossible to overcome.
Myth 2: Anxiety can’t be treated. There are many cases where people have claimed that cognitive behavioral therapy sometimes referred to as C.B.T. has helped them relieve their anxiety symptoms in just a few sessions. I personally have tried cognitive behavioral therapy and it did help however before I completed my group therapy sessions my bipolar disorder sent me into an unfortunate depressive state and I didn’t complete my classes. I do use the techniques I did learn from time to time and they can help with coping when you do feel overwhelmed by anxiety.
Myth 3: The only thing that can help with an anxiety disorder is medication. While medication can help you when you’re going through a hard time it doesn’t help everyone. Everybody has a different experience and will have a different path to recovery. As I said earlier cognitive behavioral therapy can help in some people find that is all they need and skip the medication entirely. I am working on this and when things get really bad sometimes I do have to take a Xanax or two to help so if you take medication don’t feel bad.
Myth 4: Anxiety disorders are not a very common illness. Studies here in the United States have shown that millions of Americans suffer from anxiety disorders and one in five will end up suffering from an anxiety disorder within any given year. One in five! That seems pretty common to me but I’m not a mathematician. I do know that 1 in 5 is better odds than say winning the Powerball or even getting breast cancer (1 in 8).
Myth 5: All people with anxiety disorders have to do is just avoid stressful situations. On, no. Life is stressful so avoiding stressful situations is impossible. Maybe if you were a hermit you could avoid a lot of situations but not all. Last I checked most of us have to go to work or school and those are pretty stressful places. Also, this would imply that we were psychic and able to predict whenever things in our life could potentially get stressful.
I’ve noticed that when I try to avoid things many times they can actually make my anxiety a lot worse. Avoiding stressful situations which, to be honest, I still do from time to time will not help me get better. Avoidance doesn’t allow me to use any of the tools I’ve learned to deal with my anxiety or even process it. I just end up feeling more anxious about whatever situation it is and try to completely block it out. Most of the time when I just face it head on the thing I was anxious about turns out to be no big deal and I feel better afterward
Labeling yourself as fragile or as someone who is unable handle stressful situations can actually make us feel worse about our anxiety disorder and make it a lot harder to recover.
I encourage you to seek out treatment even if it’s just reading a book about how to cope with anxiety. However, if you feel up to it I suggest seeing a CBT-based therapist so that you can get some tools to add to your coping toolbox. If you do this it can help you be less anxious since you know you have the knowledge and ability to face your anxiety.
Did I miss any myths? If there’s any you’ve heard let me know so that I can add them to the list.