6 Myths About Anxiety

Common Misconceptions About Anxiety Disorders

Whether you suffer from anxiety or know someone who does, you've probably heard a lot of misinformation about how it works and who it affects. Today, we will clear up some common myths about anxiety to promote a better understanding of how it affects the body and mind.


Myth: Anxiety isn't a real illness.

Fact: While some anxiety is natural or even helpful, anxiety disorder is different. When anxiety becomes uncontrollable, it can cause physical and mental impairment. While it can't be detected by blood tests of imaging scans, anxiety disorder is a diagnosable and treatable illness.


Myth: Anxiety issues are uncommon.

Fact: Anxiety disorders are actually the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting about 18 percent of the population. That amounts to 40 million adults who struggle with some form of anxiety issue. Unfortunately, out of all these people, only around 36 percent seek treatment. This means that over 25 million untreated Americans live every day under the weight of an anxiety disorder.


Myth: Panic attacks can cause you to faint.

Fact: Many people worry they will black out or faint during especially powerful panic attacks. In reality, this is very unlikely. When people faint, it is typically due to a drop in blood pressure. During anxiety attacks, blood pressure actually rises, while breathing increases. Even though you may feel lightheaded during an anxiety attack, you aren't likely to lose consciousness.


Myth: If you have anxiety issues, you should avoid stressful situations.

Fact: While it may be tempting to avoid anxiety triggers, it's not very practical in today's world. What's more, when you avoid crowds of people, heights, open spaces or other potential triggers, you actually reinforce the disorder. Effective anxiety treatment typically involves safely and gradually exposing people to anxiety sources, so they can learn to cope.


Myth: A single event can cause an anxiety disorder.

Fact: Because they can trigger anxiety attacks, traumatizing events are often blamed for causing anxiety disorders. In reality, most anxiety disorders typically develop from a complex collection of risk factors, including personality, brain chemistry, genetics and life events. While you might find yourself fixating on one particular memory, the actual source of your disorder is probably less definitive. Therapy can be an especially useful way to uncover the reasons behind anxiety and plot out an effective treatment plan that's tailored to your unique situation.


Myth: People never truly recover from anxiety disorders.

Fact: Some people believe that treatment will only teach then how to tolerate or hide an anxiety disorder. Sadly, this sort of thought process can keep people from reaching out for help. With proper treatment, it is possible to retrain the brain to process your environment in new ways. In time, you can learn to function in situations that might once have prompted an anxiety attack. This doesn't mean learning to hold it together, while putting on a false smile; it means actually feeling comfortable in situations that used to be extremely unsettling.


For many people, anxiety is just a part of a more complex mental health issue. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, nearly 50 percent of people who have depression also have an anxiety disorder. Fortunately, with therapy, most people can learn to cope with their anxiety, so they can start enjoying a higher quality of life.


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