We all have days when we worry or are stressed out. In fact, it’s quite normal. However, sometimes these feelings can become overwhelming and debilitating, pointing to signs of an anxiety disorder. Unfortunately, there are many common misconceptions about this condition that are important to set straight. Here are five common ones.
1. It’s Not a “Real” Illness – Everyone Worries!
While it’s true that everyone worries or feels anxious sometimes, anxiety disorders are in fact real mental illnesses. They are characterized by symptoms that are so overwhelming and ungrounded in reality that they become debilitating. For those living with an anxiety disorder it’s important to seek support and treatment to develop positive coping strategies.
2. Anxiety Isn’t Common
Another myth surrounding anxiety is that it isn’t very common. In reality, anxiety disorders affect approximately 18% of the American population. Therefore, treatment and the spread of knowledge and awareness are all very important.
3. People With Anxiety Should Avoid Stressful Centers Entirely
Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to completely avoid stressful situations—they are simply a normal part of life. People living with anxiety might feel anxious and stressed even when there is no reason to, but it’s important for people living with anxiety to develop coping mechanisms for when triggers and symptoms arise.
4. Carrying a Paper Bag Helps With Panic Attacks
Hollywood has shown us that the cure for a panic attack is to breathe into a paper bag. Reality, however, says that this might do more harm than good. This is primarily because walking around with a paper bag only acts as a constant reminder of an individual’s anxiety which doesn’t help their recovery. Instead, individuals living with anxiety should practice meditation and mindfulness techniques to help deal with panic.
5. Medication is the Only Effective Treatment for Anxiety
While medication certainly helps some individuals cope with their anxiety symptoms, it’s not the only effective treatment. Changes in lifestyle can help as can therapy (such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy) and developing healthy coping mechanisms.
Feature Image: Ahmed Shiham