15 Anxiety Myths

1. ‘Anxiety is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain’

I was surprised to find that this was a myth as Ive heard many people say that having anxiety disorder (and other mental health disorders) is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Dr. Ronald Pies, the editor-in-chief emeritus of the Psychiatric Times, proved in 2011 that anxiety disorder, as well as other mental health disorders such as depression, are not caused by a chemical imbalance after all. In fact, the reason why people believed that anxiety, as well as other mental health disorders, was caused due to a chemical imbalance in the brain was because, in the 1980’s pharmaceutical companies managed to convince the public and medical professionals (through mass marketing) that medication was the most effective way to ‘correct’ the theoretical chemical imbalance.

2.  ‘Medication is the only way you’ll overcome your anxiety disorder’

Medication may be helpful for some people however, people who believe it is the only way to overcome anxiety, originates from the misconception that there is a chemical imbalance in the brain that needs to be ‘corrected’. It is recommended to people who have anxiety disorders, to access CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) in order to change their behaviour.

3. ‘Relaxing will eliminate anxiety disorder’

Although relaxing (deep breathing, meditation etc) is beneficial, and may be helpful in reducing anxiety and the symptoms that come alongside it, it doesn’t reach the root of your anxiety; it isn’t enough to create a behavioural change therefore, the anxiety will still be present. So no, relaxing will not eliminate anxiety disorder. Click here to read my blog on how I reduce my anxiety.

4. If you have anxiety disorder, avoid stress/ stressful situations

Although it may be uncomfortable, it’s important to try not to avoid your anxiety as it only reinforces it. Sometimes the best thing to do is to face the anxiety head on, even if this is done slowly; baby steps are key.

5. If you eat right, exercise, avoid drinking alcohol and caffeine and overall have a healthy lifestyle, your anxiety will go away.

Eating healthy, exercising regularly, avoiding alcohol, caffeine, drugs and smoking will help to reduce your anxiety however, it does not reach the root cause of your anxiety disorder therefore, it will not eliminate it. Although, it is important that we look after our bodies and are conscious of the fact that what you put into your body not only can affect you physically but mentally also.

6. ‘You can pass out from having a panic attack’

When you pass out, it’s due to a drop in your blood pressure however, when you’re having a panic attack your heart rate and blood pressure increases therefore, its highly unlikely you’ll pass out even though you may feel faint.

7. Your anxiety will get better over time, just leave it and it will go’

The longer you leave your anxiety untreated, the more chance of your anxiety escalating. It’s important to seek help so that you can treat your anxieties and therefore live with as little anxiety as possible.

8. ‘Anxiety will have a long term physical effect on your body’

Suffering with anxiety can be a mental strain but also a physical one. You may experience panic attacks, nausea, sweaty palms as well as other symptoms whilst feeling anxious however, these effects typically fade after 20-30 minuets due to the body not being able to sustain that level of physical arousal for long periods of time. A lot of people believe that they’re experiencing a heart attack due to the symptoms although, it is always important to check via a medical professional.

9. ‘You have to experience a panic attack or other symptoms related to anxiety, to suffer with anxiety disorder/s’

Although some people may experience panic attacks and symptoms due to there anxiety others may not. This does not mean that they don’t have an anxiety disorder as anxiety manifests itself in various ways.

10. ‘You can’t recover from anxiety’

We all need anxiety, just not as debilitating and present. It is true that you can reduce and overcome your anxieties with support; if that be medication, mindfulness and/or therapy. Please believe me when I say that you will not have an anxiety disorder forever as long as you seek the help you need.

11. ‘Anxiety comes in one form’

There are several anxiety disorders, the most common are: Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) as stated by the National Institution of Mental Health (NIMH). With each anxiety disorder comes different triggers and symptoms; everyone is different. If you’d like to know more about the different anxiety disorders click here.

12. ‘Social Anxiety = being shy/introvert’

This is not true – although you could argue that having social anxiety, being shy and introvert have a lot in common. Being shy and introvert are personality traits whereas social anxiety is the excessive, consistent discomfort of social situations.

13. ‘Anxiety disorders stem from your childhood’

Environment plays a role as well as other factors when developing an anxiety disorder. Even though some people may have an anxiety disorder/s that stems back to their childhood, does not mean that it is the case for everyone. Someone may grow up in a stressful environment and not develop an anxiety disorder just as someone else may grow up in a positive environment and develop an anxiety disorder.

14. ‘People with anxiety disorder are mentally weaker than other people’

Anyone who suffers with a mental illness in my opinion is strong, courageous and a fighter.

15. ‘Anxiety disorder is not a ‘real illness’

Is this even a thing? In 2017? Well, for those who don’t believe that anxiety disorder is not a real illness needs to realise that anxiety disorder, as well as other mental illnesses, can be highly debilitating and have a huge effect on people’s lives. There’s loads of evidence to support that anxiety disorder is a real illness. If you are one of those people that doesn’t believe that anxiety disorder is real, please take time to read my anxiety journey.

As always, thank you for reading this blog and if you enjoyed reading it make sure you subscribe or alternatively follow my instagram/twitter @sineadmatanle to keep up to date with my latest blog posts.

Sinead x

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