Anxiety is one of the most common types of mental illnesses in the U.S. An average of one in four people in the country experience this condition at some point in their life.
In spite of the prevalence of anxiety disorder, there are many myths surrounding anxiety. At an OCD and anxiety treatment center we debunk these myths. The myths may cause the wrong notion and prevent affected individuals from seeking help. Therefore, it pays to have a clear understanding of anxiety disorders are and how they are treated.
The following are some of the common myths about them, and the specifics to debunk them.
Anxiety is not a real mental health problem
There are some forms of anxiety that are natural and considered even useful. A person may feel it during job interviews, before delivering presentations, or taking exams. You may also experience it when trying new things. This is referred to as natural anxiety, which can even inspire and motivate people to do good things.
Anxieties are considered an illness when it begins to create problems and affect daily lives. Besides causing behavioral and psychological symptoms, anxiety can develop physical symptoms such as chest pain, increased heartbeat, headaches, dizziness, muscle tension, chills, insomnia, and difficulty in breathing.
The most effective solution to treat anxiety is through medication
While medications are typically recommended for treating anxiety disorders, they merely give a short-term remedy and do not get rid of the underlying cause of the problem.
Effective treatment solutions include:
∙ Relaxation techniques and anxiety management, which include counseling, mindfulness, visualization, meditation, and breathing exercises.
∙ Exposure treatment method, which exposes individuals to the feared object or situation in a safe, simulated surrounding.
∙ Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is used to deal with problems and change the way a person thinks and behaves.
Anxiety means experiencing panic attacks
While panic attacks can happen during episodes of anxiety, this is not always the case. There a wide range of anxiety disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and generalized anxiety disorder, which may or may not cause panic or anxiety attacks.
Statistics reveal that approximately 35 to 50% of adults will have a panic attack at least once during their lifetime. However, it does not indicate that they have an anxiety disorder. About 6.8% people will feel frequent panic attacks that can be considered as panic disorder.
A panic attack is an abrupt episode of strong fear even when there is no actual threat or no reason whatsoever to be scared. Panic attacks can be alarming, as it sometimes creates serious physical reactions. When panic attacks happen, the person usually feels helpless, feels like they’re experiencing a heart attack, losing control, going crazy, or about to die.
People who have panic disorder have unexpected and recurring panic attacks, sometimes without warning. If gone untreated, panic attacks can happen many times a week or potentially every day. Persistent attacks can occur from weeks to years. During this time, the person may go through intervals of partial or full remission, which means only minor attacks with only a few symptoms no panic attacks at all.
Social anxiety is just being timid
While these two characteristics seem similar, being timid and social anxiety are actually worlds apart.
Being introvert and shy are personality traits. Individuals with these characteristics find it hard to talk to other people especially those they do not know. They prefer to value their time by themselves. Even so, these individuals do not experience persistent anxiety, excessive worry about social interactions, and the ongoing discomfort that come with social anxiety.
Conversely, social anxiety disorder is a mental health condition that affects about 3% of the U.S. population. Affected individuals may go through an extreme feeling of embarrassment or fear in social interactions. Sometimes, the individual avoids being social situations completely, or endures them but with a great deal of stress. Although a lot of individuals with social anxiety disorder are timid, timidness does not automatically indicate a social anxiety disorder.
Part of understanding anxiety disorders is having the ability to separate myth from the truth. Arming yourself with the right information helps eliminate mental health stigma. By debunking myths around anxiety, it is easier to seek effective mental health treatment and help others suffering from anxiety disorders.