“Anxiety” is a term that has come to be used often in our common language. “I’m anxious.” “I suffer from anxiety.” But often, it is used without people fully understanding what it means. Therefore, it is important to distinguish between anxiety and anxiety disorders. Despite the very high number of anxiety disorders globally, there are many myths and prejudices about what anxiety means and how it can be managed. Here are the most common myths about anxiety.
Anxiety is not a real problem
Although anxiety is an emotion that is part of our lives and can protect us when we face environmental dangers, anxiety disorders can cause us difficulties in many areas of our lives and can lead to much suffering. Anxiety occurs in many forms, and the most well-known and common are: social anxiety, panic disorder, generalized anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, specific phobia.
Anxiety is real. The sensations you feel when you have anxiety are real. If the anxiety is intense and occurs frequently, it can affect the way you function and can become a pervasive and debilitating problem that can last for months or even years.
Anxiety disorders are caused by stress
Anxiety disorders, like other mental disorders, can worsen when a person goes through stressful situations, but stress is not the cause. The causes are much more complex and usually include a combination of genetic predisposition, life experiences (how you were raised, the events you went through) and personality traits (how you think, feel and behave).
Anxiety will go away on its own.
It is true that we can get used to anxiety, as well as many other negative things in our lives, but that does not mean that it has disappeared. But we learn how to apply different strategies (for example avoidance) and how to change our lifestyle to hide anxiety, but the mechanisms that led to its occurrence are still present.
Unfortunately, two-thirds of people who experience anxiety in various forms do not receive help. The longer we wait to seek help in managing our anxiety, the greater our risk that our anxiety will become more intense and be associated with other psychological problems.
Anxiety cannot be treated.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been shown to be effective in significantly reducing the symptoms of anxiety, and these positive effects are maintained over time. Moreover, the changes can be seen even after the first sessions. During therapy you will understand how your anxiety has appeared and been maintained and what you can do to be able to start controlling it. The focus is on acquiring new skills to help you manage your thoughts, emotions, sensations and behaviors.
Anxiety is a sign of personal weakness
Anxiety disorders include a wide range of conditions, which have nothing to do with the strength of character or how strong a person is. These are conditions that anyone can suffer from, regardless of social status or circumstances.
Anxiety means having panic attacks
Panic attacks can be a manifestation of an anxiety disorder, but not always (with the exception of panic disorder, where panic attacks are recurrent). A person with one of the anxiety disorders mentioned above may or may not have panic attacks. You can also have a panic attack without suffering from an anxiety disorder. This shows that a panic attack is not the defining factor for an anxiety disorder.