Anxiety Myths & Facts
Myth: Anxiety is just another form of worrying. Everyone worries from time to time, and the feeling will ‘pass’.
Fact: It is true to say that everyone worries and that this passes depending on the circumstances. We can worry before an important exam or when we are waiting for some medical results. We can worry if an important bill needs to be paid. However, anxiety is an illness where worrying has become pathological. That is, the person with anxiety will worry persistently and over a long period about even the most trivial matters, issues and challenges of everyday life. For the person with an anxiety disorder, the acute and uncomfortable sensations that include extreme worrying do not simply disappear.
Myth: Anxiety is normal. If it gets out of hand, ‘pull yourself together’ and learn to be stronger in your management of life’s everyday issues and challenges
Fact: It is true that anxiety is a natural response and a necessary warning adaptation in humans. However, it can become a serious mental illness if the anxiety becomes extreme and uncontrollable and requires no external stimulus. While anxiety is a sensation that normally motivates or alerts us, in its pathological form it can cause people’s lives to come to a halt. Anxiety in this extreme form is not a weakness of character or an indication of the need to ‘pull yourself together’. People who are extremely well-organised and normally on top of life’s many challenges can also experience an anxiety disorder.
Myth: “I have been feeling very anxious for a few years now. I have occasional panic attacks and I often don’t want to leave the house. I don’t see my old friends very much anymore because I find socialising quite difficult. But this will pass and there’s nothing really wrong with me.”
Fact: You have been experiencing the symptoms of persistent depression and panic attacks for a number of years and you manage it through isolation and avoiding social contact. It has therefore developed into a serious illness that affects your everyday functioning. Rather than ‘pass’, these symptoms may well worsen without intervention. You should consult your doctor immediately and seek advice, support and treatment.