Mental Health

5 Myths About Anxiety Disorders and Mental Health Debunked

man woman and child measuring height against wall to represent anxiety

Last Updated on

April 30th, 2024 10:53 am

Anxiety is a common mental health concern, affecting millions of people around the world. We often think of anxiety in terms of generalized anxiety or panic disorder, but there are many different types of anxiety. Despite its prevalence, there are many myths about anxiety that lead to misunderstanding about the disorder.

This blog post will examine 5 of the most common myths about anxiety and explain why these anxiety myths are untrue. With a better understanding of mental health disorders such as anxiety, we can provide more informed and supportive responses to those living with the condition.

Anxiety is Caused by a Lack of Willpower

One of the most pervasive myths about anxiety is that it is caused by a lack of willpower in people with Anxiety disorder. This simply isn’t true. Anxiety is a complex mental health issue that is caused by a combination of biological and psychological factors.

Stress, genetics, environmental factors, and even past traumatic experiences can all contribute to the development of anxiety symptoms. While it is true that having strong willpower can help you manage your chronic anxiety, it isn’t the root cause.

People with Anxiety Disorder often feel like they are weak or inadequate because of their condition, but this isn’t the case. Anxiety is a real medical condition that requires professional treatment. Trying to “will away” your anxiety will only make it worse in the long run.

The best way to manage your feelings of anxiety is to seek professional help and develop healthy strategies for coping with anxiety. This can include cognitive-behavioral therapy with a mental health professional, relaxation techniques such as meditation, and prescribed medication.

Anxiety Medications Do Not Work and Therapy Does

It’s true that medications should not be seen as a one-size-fits-all solution, especially when it comes to mental illnesses. Medications can help with immediate symptoms, but they do not address the root cause of the anxiety. Additionally, medications can have many side effects, including physical and mental health issues that affect daily life and in extreme cases even cause major depression.

Where medications work, however, is alleviating existing symptoms that allow the individual to seek effective treatment in a way that allows them to reduce reliance on medications long-term. And, behavioral therapy will only work with the right patient-professional relationship. It doesn’t work for everyone.

Factors including the medication type itself, as well as potential misdiagnosis of a neurodevelopmental or mental disorder can affect efficacy. For example, many seeking an ADHD diagnosis are often misdiagnosed with anxiety or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and put on treatment for anxiety disorders that may in fact make their quality of life worse, not better.

doctor holding anxiety medication tablets

Anxiety medication can help bring the individual into a state of mind to benefit from therapy

Anxiety is “Just a Phase” of Worry and Panic Attacks

One of the most common myths about anxiety is the idea that it is just a “phase.” Such misconceptions about anxiety lead many to believe it doesn’t need treating. However, nearly all types of anxiety disorders can be debilitating and affect everyday life on a long-term basis.

People with high levels of anxiety can experience a wide range of symptoms including physical symptoms like headaches, fatigue, and tightness in the chest when in stressful situations. While it can be hard to manage symptoms, it is important to remember that anxiety is not something to be taken lightly. With the right help and treatment, people can gain temporary relief from anxiety and live a full life.

Anxiety can also manifest in the form of panic attacks. These episodes are often characterized by intense fear and physical reactions such as a racing heart, sweating, and difficulty breathing. Panic attacks can be incredibly frightening and can lead to feelings of helplessness. It is important to remember that panic attacks are not something that will just go away on their own; they require professional help in order to be managed.

Anxiety is Only Experienced by Adults

This myth is false. Anxiety symptoms can be experienced by people of all ages, from children to seniors. It can affect people of any gender, race, or socioeconomic status. Although adults may experience more extreme and frequent symptoms of anxiety, children and teens can also suffer from anxiety.

There are different forms of anxiety that are specific to children and teens. Meanwhile, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Demand Avoidance, and Social Anxiety Disorder affect adults too, but often get picked up much younger. It is important to know that anxiety attacks in children and teens are real and should be addressed.

It is also important to note that anxiety can be a normal part of development. For example, children may experience separation anxiety when they start school or go to sleepovers. This is a normal part of growing up and usually fades away as the child gets older. However, if the symptoms persist and become more severe, it could be an indication of an underlying anxiety disorder.

child anxiety illustration of girl and man measuring height against a wall

Child anxiety is often dismissed by adults when in reality, it’s often the adults that cause it!

Anxiety is Caused by Lifestyle and External Stressors

One of the most common myths about anxiety disorders and mental health is that external stressors, such as work problems, financial issues, or relationship issues, are the only cause of anxiety. While it’s true that these types of stressors can contribute to anxiety, the reality is that anxiety and other mental health conditions can stem from a variety of internal and external sources.

For example, genetics, brain chemistry, and past trauma can all play a role in the development of anxiety. Additionally, lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, and sleep habits can also affect mental health.

Anxiety can also come from biological or genetic predispositions, unconscious mental patterns, and even everyday worries. In order to effectively address anxiety, it’s important to understand and address the underlying causes that make anxiety worse in stressful situations, rather than simply treating the symptoms.

Anxiety Facts and Myths Can Be Dangerous

In conclusion, it is important to recognize that anxiety is a real condition and is not something to take lightly, nor should it be dismissed as something that can easily be managed or cured without help.

Anxiety can be debilitating and can lead to physical health and mental health issues, so it is important to address it and seek help if needed. By understanding the common myths, we can help ourselves and others to be more aware and better prepared to tackle anxiety in a healthy and effective way.

Keep reading to learn more about how anxiety affects neurodiversity!

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Rob Butler
30-Something Millennial with ADHD and suspected Autistic and Dyspraxic. Thought leader behind this website. Big visions of a better future for everyone, but forgets where he is half the time.Loves Rugby, his kids, and anything silly. Hates U2 and Marmite.

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