Anxiety Myths

Like all mental illnesses, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding anxiety and panic disorders, and they range from simply unhelpful to actively harmful. It’s not always as simple as whether or not someone understands what it’s like, both those who suffer from anxiety and those who support them will buy into things about this illness that’s misleading, or simply not true. My goal here is to debunk or confirm the most common myths about anxiety.

Like always though I have to give the disclaimer that I’m not a doctor, and have no medical training. Like all my posts, this one is based on my personal experiences and what I’ve learned from them.

You can pass out from a panic attack
This one is easy for almost anyone who’s suffered a panic attack to believe. A common symptom of a panic attack is feeling faint or light-headed. A lot is going on when you have a panic attack, you’re probably hyperventilating, you’re getting a rush of adrenaline, and to top it all off your senses are turbocharged. So any physical symptoms you’re having, like lightheadedness, will feel 10x worse. So no, a panic attack will not cause you to pass out.

People with anxiety just need to stop worrying
“It’ll be ok, just stop worrying.” I’m sure every anxiety sufferer has heard some variation of that phrase at least once. Yes, not worrying would go a very long way to recovering from anxiety, but it’s not that simple. Unfortunately, it’s not a light switch that can be turned off, if it were we’d all just do that. Anxiety can be deeply rooted in someone, for whatever reason these anxious minds are always ready to latch onto something and make it scary. Telling someone to “calm down” or “just relax” when they can’t isn’t going to help and in some cases can agitate the person even more. Instead, support the person, help steer them away from the negative thoughts with positive encouragement.

Exercise can cure anxiety
This one isn’t entirely untrue. Exercise has many benefits for both physical and mental health, but it is not a “cure-all”. Physical activity can help ease your symptoms by keep your mind off your worries while improving serotonin levels, but if you don’t address the underlying issues of your anxiety then you’re only addressing the symptoms. Exercise is only one piece of the puzzle and might not even help at all (though please do still exercise regularly).

Anxiety is rare
With over 40 million adults who have some form of anxiety disorder in the United States alone, it’s one of if not the most common type of mental illness. That covers a wide array of categories such as generalized anxiety, panic disorder, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. If you suffer from any kind of anxiety just know you are not alone, no matter how much it feels like you are.

There are many more myths out there, but if we take the time to step back and educate ourselves about anxiety we can be that much closer to overcoming it. Those who support us will better know what to do to help us, and we will have a better understanding of ourselves and what is really going on in our minds and bodies. What are some anxiety myths that have been dubunked for you?

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