There are many myths where anxiety is concerned. I think I have heard just about all of these myths and get frustrated when I hear them. So here are 10 myths about anxiety and the truth about the myth.
- Anxiety isn't a "real" illness - Although there are no blood tests or scans to determine if one has anxiety, it is a real illness. A little anxiety in life in normal and will generally warn a person when danger is near. Anxiety, though is bit (or more than a bit) more debilitating. One may not be able to leave the house, or just have a general fear of most normally occurring things.
- A panic attack can make you lose control or pass out - While sometimes during a panic attack you may want to pass out this usually doesn't occur. When a panic attack happens, one's blood pressure and heart rate will actually go up (to pass out one's blood pressure would need to drop rather than rise). Even though a panic attack is going on, one can usually still function when needed, such as talking to another person. Panic attacks can also trigger anxiety in that one will usually get anxiety about having another panic attack.
- Someone with anxiety should avoid stressful situations - Oh some days I wish this were true, but on the contrary, if you can push through the anxiety and deal with the stressful situation this can help to alleviate anxiety. Because life can be stressful, one should deal with it head on. If things get too bad, take a step back and breathe, then continue on. By avoiding stressful situations, the anxiety will only get worse.
- Some people are just worrywarts and can't be treated - Does this sound ridiculous to you? It should. While yes, some people do tend to worry more than others, anxiety goes farther than just normal over worrying. According to research, Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) could be very effective for anxiety. This entails realizing the negative thoughts that tend to cause anxiety and replacing them with positive thoughts.
- Anxiety is not very common - This is false also. Approximately 18% of adults suffer from anxiety. This equates to about 1 in every 5 people. That's a lot!
- Anxiety will get better over time - No! Unless one get treatment for it, it can get worse. Treatment will help to alleviate the symptoms. Medication can help to suppress the feelings of anxiety while one is working through it to find the cause and change the negative thoughts.
- Therapy will take forever - Usually if one goes through CBT, one could potentially start seeing improvements within a few sessions.
- Just "get over it" already - Oh how I wish this were true. Unless you know what is causing the anxiety it can get worse. Treatment is really the only way to get over it. Even then it may not go away completely, but should at least become manageable.
- To lessen anxiety, snap a rubber band against your wrist - This used to be a common treatment for anxiety, but we know now that it really doesn't work. This is the same thing as trying not to think about anxiety causing thoughts. The more you try not to, the more you actually do.
10. The causes of anxiety are usually rooted in childhood - While this could be true for some, research has shown that effective anxiety treatments focus on the here and now rather than the past. It is the thoughts that are causing the anxiety not actually what has happened in the past.