Anxiety is the most common mental illness in the United States. Statistics show that over 40 million adults in the United States suffer from anxiety each year. That means that 18 % of the population struggle with anxiety. Although it is the most common mental illness, it is also the most misunderstood with many misconceptions attached to it. The most common myth about anxiety is that it is not serious enough to seek medical treatment and only severe cases should qualify for medical assistance. Let’s look at all the different myths about anxiety disorders.
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Anxiety Disorder is Not Real
For many, anxiety comes in small doses and is a common emotion we all feel. It can even be good to feel some anxiety. Being worried, anxious, or stressed about work, home life, finances can be healthy. This is only true in small doses as it can help people anticipate possible problems and be able to mentally prepare for these problems. Anxiety disorders are much worse than the regular stress a person experiences.
A rule of thumb for diagnosing anxiety disorders is feeling worried or scared daily for six months. In order to meet the criteria set forth by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Health (DSM-5), you will need to have a certain number of symptoms for at least six months for an official diagnosis. Some of these symptoms include:
- Restlessness or feeling keyed up
- Racing heart
- Sleep disturbances (trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or broken sleep)
- Easily fatigued
- Difficulty with thinking and concentrating
- Loses track of thought easily
There are many other symptoms not listed here that can be signs of an anxiety disorder and you should speak to a medical professional about what you are experiencing.
Anxiety Disorders are Rare
As we mentioned anxiety disorders are actually the most common mental illness in the United States. Anxiety has several subtypes and symptoms and the extremity of the disorder will vary depending on the type of anxiety you suffer. The two most common forms of anxiety are social phobias and specific phobias.
Although each disorder will have its own unique symptoms, the thing they have in common is they will have an impact on a person’s day-to-day life. You may interact with someone every day who has anxiety and never know because they are able to manage their anxiety. Also, because of the misconceptions about anxiety, many who suffer from anxiety disorders do not express to others that they have anxiety.
Panic Attacks can Make you Faint
Panic attacks are different for everyone and fainting during a panic attack is rare. Panic attacks symptoms can be exasperated when the fear of fainting or feeling like one is having a heart attack is present. Although each person who does experience a panic attack will have different symptoms some of the most common are difficulty breathing and a racing heartbeat.
Individuals who have never suffered a panic attack may think they are actually having a heart attack. Those who have an anxiety disorder and can recognize the onset of a panic attack may have ways to reduce their anxiety. A person may look for an exit and a place to be alone and lay down. Those who are on medication may exit to take their medication.
Anxiety Goes Away by Itself
The reality is that anxiety does not go away on its own. It will require treatment in order to go away and symptoms are persistent in patients with an anxiety disorder if untreated. Anxiety can increase during certain time periods in your life or after certain situations. There may also be periods of time where an individual will not experience any symptoms or signs of anxiety.
Many people will see this as a sign that the patient is cured of their anxiety and no longer needs treatment. Anxiety is a chronic illness and symptoms may return if the disorder is not treated correctly or treatment is stopped. Anxiety may be caused by underlying issues that should be addressed through therapy. The best strategy is to address these underlying issues head-on. This can help you manage your anxiety disorder.
You Can Only Treat Anxiety with Medication
Anxiety can be treated in a variety of ways that do not involve medication. Society has come to the conclusion that any medical disorder should be treated with medication and that is not always true. Anxiety and other mental disorders have different options such as:
- Meditation techniques
- Relaxation techniques
- Problem-solving strategies
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Group therapy
Depending on the specifics of each case you may incorporate multiple strategies into your treatment plan. Your medical professional will be able to look at all of the factors and determine the best route to take to treat your anxiety and any other underlying issues.
Avoid Stressful Situations
People will often advise those who suffer from anxiety to avoid stressful situations or triggers. The fact is, stress is an unavoidable part of life and everyone will face some form of stress at one point or another. You cannot simply avoid stress and think your anxiety will go away. Instead, you will need to find coping methods to handle stress effectively. There may be certain triggers that can exasperate a person’s anxiety:
- Social situations
- Personal conflict
- Professional conflict
- Certain fears
Another downside to attempting to avoid anxiety is that a person may begin to avoid necessary aspects of life. You may begin to avoid your triggers such as going to restaurants. This can spiral into avoiding social situations altogether. This can also lead to other mental health problems like depression.
Anxiety is a Sign of Weakness
Many times, it’s hard for people without an anxiety disorder do not understand the struggles. Since they view the person as “unable to get past it”, they assume they are weak. Everyone has a threshold for what they can handle and that varies from person to person. Everyone deals with anxiety and many develop an anxiety disorder. There may be factors that can increase your chances but no one is exempt from the possibility.
Anxiety is Just for Show
Another common misconception is that people use anxiety to get attention. The disorder comes with physical, mental, and emotional symptoms. This cannot be replicated for attention or as a manipulation tactic.
Social Anxiety Just Means You Are Shy
Social anxiety and being shy are two different things, one is a mental illness and one is a personality trait. Social anxiety is when a person vehemently avoids social situations due to their fear of being in large groups or around certain people. The person will be fearful that they will embarrass themselves, cannot get out if necessary, or will be criticized by the group. There will be extreme symptoms of anxiety leading up to and during the social situation. Many will cancel at the last minute to avoid potential panic attacks.
Being shy on the other hand is when a person is slightly uncomfortable in social situations or prefers to be alone. Someone who is shy often manages crowds better and will talk with the people they know. Some shy people will “grow out of it”.
Call BasePoint Psychiatry & Wellness Today
If you are suffering from anxiety or another mental disorder you may need the assistance of a medical professional. Call us and speak with our experts on how treatment can help you. Anxiety disorders are real and cause serious health issues if not treated correctly. Ignore the common myths about anxiety so that you can obtain the anxiety and depression treatment you require. Seek out the experience of our trusted team so you can learn to be less anxious in various situations.