Anxiety is a complex condition, and what can complicate the diagnosis and treatment even further are the several myths surrounding it. Most people are unclear whether anxiety is a real disease or just another synonym for worrying. To clear up what anxiety really is, we’ve listed the most common myths and facts about this disorder.
Myth 1: Anxiety is not a real medical condition
Fact: While you can feel anxious sometimes without it being diagnosed as an anxiety disorder, deeper and chronic levels of anxiety can impair your ability to function in daily life. This is a real medical issue and diagnosed by doctors as an Anxiety Disorder. There are formal mechanisms, such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders utilized by medically trained doctors to assess for an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are treatable medical issues, and formal treatment by a therapist, psychiatrist or psychologist can enable patients to go on to live normal, fruitful lives.
Myth 2: Anxiety disorders are not very common
Fact: The truth is, millions of Indians suffer from anxiety disorders, and one in every five Indian women will suffer from one within any given year! Did you know that postpartum anxiety in new mothers is as common as postpartum depression?
Myth 3: Anxiety is just a form of attention-seeking behaviour
Fact: Anxiety has physical, mental and behavioural symptoms that cannot be explained away by ‘attention-seeking behavior’. People dealing with an anxiety disorder can often suffer from breathing, digestion, muscular and sleep issues. They may frequently express irritablility, fearfulness, and end up avoiding people or places, unable to live their lives normally. These are physical symptoms of an anxiety disorder and are often not under a person’s control.
Myth 4: Anxiety is a short-term problem that can go away on its own
Fact: Unfortunately, for most people, anxiety disorders can get worse over time if left untreated. Statistically, people with anxiety disorder end up waiting an average of 10 years to seek treatment. Their extreme fears can end up hampering daily activities and worsen performance at school or work. Moreover, untreated anxiety can negatively impact relationships with family and friends and become overwhelming for the person to deal with. Luckily, anxiety disorder is a treatable medical condition. Diagnosis and treatment can help a person recover and live a normal life.
Myth 5: There is no therapy for anxiety
Fact: Anxiety can be treated by ‘talk therapy’ as well as through medication. Cognitive behavioural therapy is beneficial for dealing with an anxiety disorder, and most people report that they feel better after the first couple of weeks. Many studies have shown that medication combined with therapy yields the best results for anxiety. You can also explore psychodynamic psychotherapy for anxiety.
Myth 6: Only medication can help deal with anxiety
Fact: All you can do is take medication, right? Wrong! Medication can help manage symptoms felt as you go through the process of psychotherapy. Everyone has a different experience and will have a different path to recovery.
Myth 7: The cure to anxiety is to avoid stressful situations
Fact: Avoiding stressful situations is impossible. You will not know when things could potentially get stressful. Avoiding things that could be anxiety-provoking or stressful could even make anxiety worse. Also, when you keep avoiding potentially stressful situation you inadvertently label yourself as 'fragile' or 'unable to handle’ situations, thus hampering your overall recovery. Instead of avoiding these situations, you can take a proactive approach by addressing the underlying problem through therapy, and then using the tools you learn to process your environment better!
What other myths have you heard about? Leave in the comments because we must talk about mental health and break the stigma together. Just remember mental health is just as important as physical health. You are not alone in your struggles. There are medical professionals and services at Veera to help. Stay healthy, stay brave, Veera ladies!
 Carpenter JK;Andrews LA;Witcraft SM;Powers MB;Smits JAJ;Hofmann SG;. (n.d.). Cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety and related disorders: A meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials. Retrieved October 08, 2020, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29451967/
Disclaimer: Content on Veera is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice, or as a substitute for medical advice given by a physician