There are several myths about anxiety. When people think about anxiety, they immediately think of someone having panic attacks and hiding away from any outside contact. This is not always the case. Because of all of these misconceptions and stereotypes about people suffering with anxiety, it can be hard to know what is actually true when it comes to talking about it. This is why we've decided to de-bunk some of those myths for you.
You've got nothing to be anxious about.
This one is a popular thing that is said to people with anxiety. You can have all the money in the world, a nice house, happy family and a great job, but that does not mean you can't suffer anxiety. Like depression and other mental health challenges, anxiety does not discriminate. Saying to someone that they've got nothing to be anxious about is like saying 'people have it so much worse, don't be ungrateful'. Which as you can imagine, is not very helpful to the person suffering with anxiety.
Everyone with anxiety displays it the same way.
Not true. Some people can have panic attacks, some people will hide away whereas others may be fully functioning members of society and hold down important and powerful jobs. Anybody around you could suffer with anxiety and you may not realise it. I'll give you an example; for me, I suffer with anxiety about walking down the street on my own, driving, talking to new people, even talking to people I know very well and I have major anxiety around food. However, although I suffer with loads of anxiety on a daily basis, you don't always see it, I go to work, make presentations to groups of people, bring a homemade lunch with me to eat at work etc.
Anxiety is the same for everyone.
As I have said above, anxiety does not discriminate. No two people's anxiety will be the same. One person may be severely anxious about public transport and may not be able to travel on buses or trains. Another person may be fine travelling on a bus or train and might commute by train to work everyday, instead they may have anxiety over going shopping for food. Anxiety is not a rational thing. Someone can have anxiety and nothing in particular will set it off, it's just there and you're unsure why; this is called generalised anxiety disorder.
It's just a phobia.
Anxiety is a separate thing to phobias. A phobia is something that you're scared of usually for rational reasons, for example being afraid of heights because you're scared of falling and hurting yourself is a rational fear. Whereas being anxious about going food shopping is something that you would not consider rational as you'd think that nothing can hurt you when you're walking down the different food aisles, but for someone with anxiety something that may be considered irrational to someone who doesn't suffer with anxiety, is incredibly rational to someone who does suffer with anxiety as they are thinking about all of the things that could go wrong and potentially hurt them.
Telling someone to relax stops the anxious feelings.
Unfortunately this couldn't be any more wrong. If someone has told you about their anxious feelings, it is a huge step for them. If you tell them to 'just relax' or that they have 'nothing to be anxious about'(like no 1.) if can make them feel like what they just told you isn't a valid thing to have opened up about. It can feel as though they're just brushing it under the carpet and looking for a quick fix. I think all of us suffering with anxiety would love it if by saying 'just relax' fixed all feelings of anxiety, we'd probably shout if from the roof tops.
Medication is the only way to fix it.
Due to anxiety being so unique to each and every person suffering with it, medication will not work for everyone. Some people will respond extremely well with medication and will use that to go about their lives as usual. Whereas some people will not find medication a helpful solution for them, this can be due to other medications they're on, not responding well to medication or simply not wanting to take medication. For those of us not taking medication, and even those who are; talking therapies and other individual treatments can be a great help in getting some relief from anxiety. Talking therapies and individual treatments can help by giving you anything from just talking about how you're feeling and getting it all off your chest to getting some tips on how to calm yourself down if you feel an anxiety attack coming on. Treatment could even be confronting an anxiety inducing situation head on with the help of a friend, college or professional.
You’re weak if you suffer with anxiety.
This one couldn't be more wrong. Suffering with anxiety DOES NOT make you weak. At all. If anything, you're stronger for withstanding all of the anxious, frustrating and draining aspects of what living with anxiety can do to you. People suffering with any mental health challenges are more resilient than you can imagine.
Opening up about anxiety is strong, brave and courageous. Not everyone will find it easy to do so, and not everyone will open up. That's ok. We all go at our own paces and have our own difficulties and struggles; it makes us human. And we all deserve to feel human. Regardless of what any mental health challenges make us feel.
If you're suffering with anxiety, or think you are, visit your GP, they'll be able to help or pass you on to someone that specialises in mental health. If you're struggling or want some more information about anxiety, you can visit some of the links below or visit the 'Who Else Can Help Me?' page here on Keep-Your-Head!
I hope this helps any of you out there, whether it's feeling understood, informed or relieved. Have a great day everyone!