Breaking Down Four Myths and Facts About Anxiety

Origins+Recovery+says%2C+%22Nearly+20+percent+of+American+adults+experience+an+anxiety+disorder+every+year.%22+PHOTO+by+Fernando+on+Unsplash

Origins Recovery says, "Nearly 20 percent of American adults experience an anxiety disorder every year." PHOTO by Fernando on Unsplash

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about anxiety.  Some of these myths and misconceptions contribute to stigma while other misconceptions are related to the actions people living with anxiety should take.  These misconceptions can be potentially harmful to those living with anxiety. It is important to address the misconceptions to decrease stigma and for people living with anxiety to have accurate information.  That way they can take the proper actions to cope.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA, has an infographic titled “MYTH VS REALITY.” One of the myths is that “Medications for anxiety are addictive so they should be taken only if absolutely necessary.”  It then addresses this myth by saying that “SSRI and SNRI antidepressants are not addictive.” The Mayo Clinic Staff says SSRI, Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and SNRI, Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors can treat depression and anxiety.  “SSRIs treat depression by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain”. “SNRIs block the reabsorption (reuptake) of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain.” ADAA notes that unlike SSRI and SNRI antidepressants, people can become dependent on Benzodiazepines.  

People may be more likely to see psychiatrists if they know SSRI and SNRI antidepressants are not addictive.  Medication may be a helpful treatment option for people who struggle with anxiety disorders. It can help with the chemical imbalance in the brain that people living with anxiety may experience.  

Another myth that ADAA says is that, “Some people are just worrywarts or neurotic, and there is nothing that can really make a difference”. This could be one of the most harmful myths out there.  It contributes to the stigma that surrounds mental illness. It may also make the person who has an anxiety disorder feel hopeless because they may think that there is nothing they can do that will help them cope with their anxiety.  

While there may not be a “cure” to anxiety, there are several ways that people living with anxiety can cope to make them feel better including medication, exercise, listening to music and therapy. 

ADAA addresses this myth by saying, “Therapy can help you reduce worry and suffering and learn a different relationship to your own thoughts, regardless of your temperament and how long neurotic habits have been in your life.” 

Origins Recovery says, “Nearly 20 percent of American adults experience an anxiety disorder every year.” PHOTO by Fernando on Unsplash

A third myth that ADAA addresses is, “If you have an anxiety disorder, it is important to avoid stress and situations that make you feel ‘stressed’.” 

In most circumstances, it is important to work through situations that may cause anxiety or stress.  A lot of times therapists will recommend patients to work through situations that makes the patient feel stressed and anxious.  In most cases, the patient will ultimately feel better by working through these situations. 

ADAA says that the truth is, “Treating yourself as if you are fragile and avoiding risk leads to feeling demoralized.  Avoiding anxiety tends to reinforce it. You can be anxious and still do whatever you have to do.”

Origins Behavioral Healthcare also addresses myths and misconceptions about anxiety disorders.  One of the myths they address are “anxiety disorders aren’t common.”  Origins Recovery says that “anxiety disorders are actually extremely common.  Nearly 20 percent of American adults experience an anxiety disorder every year.”  Origin Behavioral Healthcare notes there are different anxiety disorders, “including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, OCD, social anxiety disorder and phobias.” It also says that people may not think that anxiety disorders are common because people living with anxiety disorders may be too anxious to leave their house.  It can be a long time until somebody living with an anxiety disorder gets diagnosed.  

Another reason why people may not realize that anxiety disorders are common is that like any other mental illness anxiety disorders are not always physically transparent. Sometimes there can be no way for people to automatically tell that another person is experiencing anxiety.

Anxiety and anxiety disorders may be painful to experience at times. By addressing these myths and misconceptions, stigma may be decreased, people living with anxiety can feel less alone and will be more informed on how to cope with their anxiety.