As a friend, partner, sister, daughter, boss, colleague, and the like, we all need to be there for those we care about. This means understanding the mental health challenges others may have or the ones we’re dealing with ourselves.
Today, anxiety is one of the leading health concerns for people of all ages, yet there are still all sorts of myths floating around about it. Here are some of the most common ones that need debunking.
False: It’s Obvious When People Have Anxiety Disorders
One of the most prevalent ideas about anxiety that’s not true is that it’s obvious when people have a disorder of this type. The reality is that even though anxiety is debilitating to people who have to deal with it, this doesn’t mean that others notice what’s going on for them.
Anxiety patients often feel ashamed or embarrassed by their symptoms, so they do what they can to keep them hidden. They may make excuses to avoid situations they know will trigger their anxiety and try to handle panic attacks and other strong feelings in private.
Plus, many people have coping strategies that help them stop their symptoms from being noticeable, and they may not even get any physical signs of distress, either. For lots of people, anxiety is purely psychological and kept internal, rather than demonstrated through visible panic, shaking hands, hyperventilation, etc. As such, be aware that some of your contacts may have an anxiety disorder that you’re unaware of.
False: Medication is the Only Treatment Option
Another myth that gets spread about anxiety is that the only way to treat it is via medication. It’s true that taking medicine is one option for sufferers and can make a world of difference for people, so if you have signs of an anxiety disorder, it’s wise to speak with a doctor and utilize handy online prescriptions to stay stocked up on medication over time.
However, there are various other treatment options worth exploring, too. If you have mild symptoms, you may not need medication at all and might want to focus on different strategies, while severe anxiety typically requires the use of medicine plus other techniques.
Some effective treatment plans include exercise, a healthy diet, sleep, and meditation and other relaxation processes. There are also cognitive behavioral therapy and other counseling methods, group-based talk sessions, and problem-solving strategies.
False: There’s a Single Type of Anxiety
Often, we think of anxiety as a single disorder that can be wrapped up neatly with a bow. But there are multiple types of anxiety disorders under one umbrella, and they all operate a little differently and can stem from different causes. For example, most people get diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia).
GAD sufferers worry continually about day-to-day things, even if they seem to have little or no reason to be concerned, logically. They might stress about getting through their day, their health, job, relationships, conversations with others, and much more. On the other hand, social anxiety is more concentrated on dealings with other people. When dealing with social anxiety, patients’ worries get triggered by thinking about or being with other people. Interactions can cause stress, as can simply fearing judgment from others.
In addition, there’s another type of specific anxiety disorder called panic disorder. People with this mental health condition get panic attacks out of the blue. These are sudden and repeated times of irrational fear that cause physical symptoms that can last up to a few minutes or more such as dizziness, shaking, shortness of breath, and heart palpitations.
False: Everyone Gets the Same Symptoms
Another misconception to be aware of is that everyone with anxiety disorder gets the same symptoms. As you can guess from the fact that there are different types of the condition and everyone reacts differently to situations depending on their past, lifestyles, biochemistry, and more, symptoms vary from person to person.
False: Social Anxiety is No Different to Being Shy
Some people erroneously think social anxiety is just a fancy term for shyness. However, being shy and having this anxiety disorder are two separate things. While shy people may be more likely to experience social anxiety, many shy people don’t have the disorder. Social phobia means having a persistent fear of social situations and worrying about performance when in any group. Shy people, however, may feel uncomfortable in some situations with other people and prefer to spend a lot of time alone, but don’t get the same excessive level of distress happening.
Anxiety disorder is a real and debilitating illness that affects many people, regardless of how healthy and mentally and physically strong they are and where and how they grew up. It can be a lifelong disorder and needs to be understood more comprehensively. Learning about common misconceptions is a great way to start obtaining the facts about this mental health condition.