Although anxiety disorders affect more than 40 million Americans, they are nevertheless a condition that is frequently misunderstood. That might be the case since, as the National Alliance on Mental Illness notes, the majority of people occasionally experience anxiety. Because life is hectic, it’s common to feel apprehensive before major events or when there are many things going on. However, anxiety disorders are complicated, and by comprehending them, more people can be helped. These five myths about anxiety are widely believed, yet they are false.
Myths 1: Anxiety is a mental condition.
Truthfully, shivering, chest pain, heart palpitations, nausea, and lightheadedness are just a few of the very real physical symptoms of anxiety, according to Karen Surowiec, Psy.D., a psychologist of the Manhattan Psychology Group. That’s because anxiety and fear set off the body’s fight-or-flight response, which releases chemicals that tighten your muscles and accelerate your heartbeat and breathing. Due to the relationship between the brain and the digestive system, both being anxious and having an upset stomach can cause anxiety. According to one study, 44% of persons with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and just 8% of those without IBS reported having anxiety. As a result, even though your anxieties are unlikely to materialize, they can still be creating a very genuine physical reaction.
Myths #2: Worrying excessively is what causes anxiety.
The reality is that worry is a component of anxiety, but it is not the entire picture.
While anxiety causes significant emotional suffering that you can physically feel, it may not be based on rational fears.Sometimes the dread is vague or it persists even after the event you were afraid of has passed. For instance, it’s normal to feel anxious before a meeting with your boss, but obsessing about something you said or the result after the fact can be crippling and cause symptoms like a sense of impending doom, hyperventilation, sweating, difficulty concentrating, or trouble sleeping. It’s time to seek treatment, advises Telnes, if anxiety has been impairing your performance at job, school, or home for weeks or months.
Myths #3: You ought to stay away from circumstances that make you nervous
The reality is that hiding from your anxiety can have side effects, even though it’s a normal response, according to anxiety expert Haley Neidich, L.C.S.W. Procrastinating, avoiding social engagements or paying bills, and not speaking up in relationships are all severe vices, according to her. In fact, exposure therapy, which is the exact opposite of avoidance, is a popular anxiety treatment. According to Telnes, this works by enabling people to confront their anxieties in a secure setting and, as a result, discover that they are manageable. Sometimes the exposure is gradual, taking place in the “real” world or in virtual reality in the comfort of a therapist’s office (for instance, taking a simulated flight to overcome a fear of flying). Learning coping mechanisms is another component of it. One such strategy is acknowledging anxiety. “Saying to yourself, ‘Yup, I’m anxious; I feel it in my chest; I feel like I’m losing it,’ sounds simple, but it can reduce your symptoms immediately and puts you in a position of problem-solving rather than denying reality,'” says Neidich.
Myths #4: Shyness and social anxiety are the same thing
The reality is that shyness is more of a personality trait than social anxiety, which can be crippling. While shyness can be uncomfortable, SAD can be a disorder. If you’re shy, it might be difficult for you to approach strangers or be the centre of attention. It is simple to understand how SAD can make it difficult to function. For instance, a person with SAD might avoid going grocery shopping entirely out of fear that the cashier will ask them a question they won’t be able to answer. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, people with SAD may also experience heightened fear responses like body stiffness and feeling like their minds “go blank,” in addition to the physical symptoms of nervousness associated with shyness such as sweaty palms and jittery hands. Thankfully, studies indicate that people with SAD who receive cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) have a recovery rate of close to 70%.
Myths 5: You can simply snap out of it.
While it can be beneficial to temporarily suppress or deny anxiety in order to get through a difficult situation, she argues that doing so can lead to problems like substance abuse, chronic health problems, dysfunctional relationships, and insomnia. “You’re going to have to acknowledge your anxiety, feel your feelings, and learn coping mechanisms if you want to feel better,” continues Neidich. These can include stress-reduction methods like exercise, journaling, deep breathing, meditation, and yoga, as well as CBT, which can help you confront your reactions and fears and find healthier, more constructive ways to deal with them, according to the expert.