Misconceptions about anxiety

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anxietyThe internet is filled to the brim with false information regarding panic attacks, phobias and all kinds of anxieties. These include not only misconceptions, but also too-good-to-be-true promises of miracle cures (pay up-front, though). If you’re plagued by anxiety, you’re willing to try anything and that’s the saddest part. These misconceptions and their echo chamber-like repetition makes people feel even more isolation, which only fuels the anxiety. Here are the most popular misconceptions and myths about anxiety.

  • It’s not a real illness. This one stems from the fact that we all experience anxiety. Anxiety is relatable, and many people are quick to chalk it up to a person being weak-willed or flat-out meek. Anxiety is a very real illness, it can cause a plethora of physical and psychological symptoms.
  • You can treat anxiety with medication only. There are many ways to treat anxiety without medication. There’s cognitive behavioral therapy (changing the perception), there’s exposure therapy (facing the fear).
  • People with anxiety should avoid stressful situation. This one is kind of insulting. Think about it this way – the more you avoid something, the more you will build it up inside of your head. It can get absolutely nerve-wrecking.
  • Everyone experiences anxiety similarly. All the symptoms, even within the same specific disorder, can vary greatly depending on the person.
  • You can always tell if someone has an anxiety-related disorder. Some people are incredibly good at putting up a façade of perfect calmness.
  • You need a valid reason to feel anxious. All the anxiety disorders are irrational.
  • Social anxiety = being shy. These two do seem similar, but they’re completely different. Being an introvert is a part of someone’s personality. They just feel more comfortable on their own, hey do not experience persistent anxiety associated with social interactions.
  • You can’t cure anxiety. Many people believe that anxiety is exactly like some types of mental illnesses that won’t ever go away. In fact, the opposite is true. You can cure anxiety for good.
  • You can cure anxiety using self-help books. Granted, some of the self-help books are, well, helpful. You can’t overcome the illness using self-help materials alone. It’s not completely impossible, but it is very, VERY unlikely.
  • There are miracle cures for anxiety. We briefly discussed that one in the introduction, but it’s incredibly important to understand that the treatment takes hard work and dedication. Believing in this last myth can be very dangerous: after unsuccessfully trying a miracle cure (or several of them), you conclude that your anxiety is incurable, it’s all hopeless. Of course, feeling hopeless is a sure-fire way to spiral into depression.
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