Everyone experiences fear and anxiety at times. For some people, the intensity and duration of symptoms requires treatment from a health professional. To give yourself the best chance at living a life free from anxiety, it’s important to have a good understanding of what it is. Here are six of the most common myths about anxiety:
Myth #1: Anxiety is just “being nervous.”
This is one of the biggest myths about anxiety. Many people get nervous in certain situations, but when your anxiety symptoms become overwhelming, you may be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder like:
- Generalized anxiety disorder – You experience excessive worry and tension, even when unprovoked by life situations.
- Panic disorder – You have frequent panic attacks. Symptoms include fast heart rate, chest pain, shortness of breath, inability to sit still, feeling faint, and a sense of doom.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – Intense anxiety symptoms combine with patterns of avoidance created after a triggering traumatic event.
- Social anxiety disorder – You experience anxiety and self-consciousness in different types of social situations.
To get a proper diagnosis, visit a qualified therapist or psychiatrist. They will be able to take a full inventory of your symptoms and put together a treatment plan tailored to your needs.
Myth #2: Anxiety and depression always go together.
It’s estimated that 60% of people with anxiety disorders also have depression symptoms. There’s a significant amount of overlap, but that leaves 40% of people who aren’t diagnosed with depression.
- Depressed mood
- Lack of interest in enjoyable activities
- Increase or decrease in appetite
- Insomnia or hypersomnia
- Slowing of movement
- Lack of energy
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Trouble concentrating
- Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Excessive worry
- Being easily fatigued
- Trouble concentrating
- Sleep disturbance
- Muscle tension
Myth #3: I’m one of very few people with anxiety.
Experiencing symptoms can feel overwhelming and isolating. Keep in mind that many around you have the same experience. Forty million Americans are affected by anxiety disorders every year. Thirty percent of Americans will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives.
You are not alone!
Myth #4: My anxiety disorder doesn’t need treatment; I can just deal with it.
Only about 37% of people with anxiety disorders seek treatment. Approximately 23% of people diagnosed fall into a “severe” classification; the rest falling under mild or moderate. It’s easy enough to convince yourself you can overcome your anxiety without getting help. Maybe you only experience a panic attack in situations such as work meetings or job interviews.
But don’t dismiss the impact that anxiety can have on your life. If it’s left untreated, you can spend a good part of your life suffering when your triggers come up. Everyone gets nervous, but when it impacts your quality of life, there’s no reason to try and push through with sheer will. Millions of people get help for their anxiety, and it drastically changes their lives for the better.
If you hesitate to take medication to treat your anxiety, there are other highly effective options in the form of talk therapy. Which brings us to . . .
Myth #5: The only effective treatment for anxiety is medication.
SSRI and SNRI antidepressants have long been the standard of medical treatment for anxiety disorders, but they don’t work for everyone, and many people don’t like their side effects.
Therapy can also be very effective for overcoming anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy is especially powerful. In fact, it’s more effective than medication for treating social anxiety disorder, and equally as effective for panic disorder. CBT focuses on reframing negative thought patterns that trigger anxiety. It’s done for a short period of time, unlike the years that psychoanalysis often requires.
Another option is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). It’s a non-invasive treatment that works by regulating your amygdala, a part of your brain that becomes hyperactive when you have anxiety. TMS treatment has none of the side effects associated with antidepressant medication.
You Can Recover from Anxiety
That’s not a myth! Anxiety is highly treatable. Once you understand what causes your anxiety, it’s possible to find effective treatment that will drastically improve your quality of life. “I’ll never get better” and, “I’ll be this way forever” are the biggest anxiety myths you’re telling yourself!