The American Psychological Association defines anxiety as an “emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes like increased blood pressure.” This definition is straightforward, yet misconceptions about anxiety and its treatments continue to spread like wildfire.
The worst part is that these misconceptions often make people with anxiety feel confused and discouraged to seek medical help.
This article debunks the myths about anxiety and anxiety treatment programs and explains the real facts behind them.
5 Common Misconceptions About Anxiety
Misconceptions about the illness itself causes disinformation to many people and leads to further confusion when seeking treatment. These include:
1) Anxiety Isn’t a Real Disorder
FACT: Anxiety is a real disorder with scientific backing
The limbic system of the brain is responsible for our emotions. The amygdala, hippocampus, hypothalamus, and thalamus are the parts of the brain responsible for emotions, especially the fight-or-flight response.
People who suffer from anxiety have a very active limbic system. More specifically, a person with anxiety might have a hyperactive amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for triggering the flight-or-fight response.
2) Anxiety Goes Away Over Time
FACT: Anxiety, if left untreated, becomes worse over time
Generalized anxiety disorder or GAD is a chronic illness similar to diabetes, hypertension, and asthma. It means that anxiety develops over time until it becomes debilitating. Anxiety isn’t a phase but an ongoing problem.
Unfortunately, not all people are gifted with the strength to overcome anxiety on their own. Sometimes, people unconsciously develop coping mechanisms that reduce the symptoms of anxiety. That’s why anxiety treatment is available for those who need help controlling it.
3) Social Anxiety and Being Shy Is the Same
FACT: Social anxiety and shyness are like apples and oranges
No, they’re not the same. Being shy is feeling nervous or uncomfortable when being around other people. On the other hand, social anxiety is the feeling of fear when being around people accompanied by increased heart rates, sweating, and being overly self-conscious.
It’s natural to be shy or uncomfortable with people you don’t know. You’ve probably experienced that when meeting new people after accepting a job or transferring to a school. But when you start to fear meeting new people, that’s a different story already.
4) When You Feel Anxious, Just Think of Happy Thoughts
FACT: Too much positivity is toxic
Peter Pan told us to “think happy thoughts.” However, it’s not the solution to anxiety. Today, we know this thinking as toxic positivity. Toxic positivity reduces our capacity to feel emotions, greatly affecting people with anxiety. Whenever we tell people just to shrug it off, we invalidate their feelings and treat negative emotions as invalid emotions. In reality, negative emotions are still emotions.
5) People Regularly Faint During Anxiety Attacks
FACT: It’s possible but extremely rare
We can’t rule out the possibility of fainting during anxiety attacks, but it can theoretically happen under certain circumstances. Anxiety attacks are an overreaction of the limbic system to a certain stressor or fear. Accompanying panic attacks are racing heartbeats and trouble breathing.
However, fainting occurs when there is a sudden drop in blood pressure in the brain. That’s why fainting is rare during panic attacks though we can’t rule out the possibility of it happening.
5 Common Misconceptions About Anxiety Treatment
Treating anxiety is backed by years of research in the field of psychiatry. With the help of technology, treating mental health disorders is even more effective. Let’s discover the truths behind common myths in treating anxiety.
1) Medication is the Only Treatment for Anxiety
FACT: Anxiety treatment is a combination of medication and therapy
Medication is not an immediate treatment for mental health disorders. All treatments start with a psychiatric assessment which may or may not lead to the use of medications. Therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety augments the effect of medication on the patient. Moreover, some patients opt to stick to therapy alone.
2) The Best Treatment for Anxiety is Avoiding Stress
FACT: Stress is unavoidable.
Stress is part of human life. It comes in different forms, and our reaction to stress differs. Stress can come from work pressures, losing a loved one, enduring financial setbacks, and many more. There is no way to avoid stress. That’s why entering into well-structured anxiety treatment programs can help you manage the stressors that cause anxiety.
3) The Only Way To Treat Anxiety is to Address the Root Cause of the Disorder
FACT: It’s almost impossible to address the root cause.
Anxiety can root from many things that happened in the past, and not every root cause is evident to the patient. Therapists try hard to squeeze out details that might help them fully understand the patient. However, therapists are at the mercy of what the patients tell them.
It would be nice if all therapists had the powers of Professor Xavier in the X-Men series. But alas, therapists aren’t mind-readers. They can only help keep you mentally healthy while you go through the ups and downs associated with anxiety.
4) Treatment for Anxiety is the Same for All
FACT: There are different kinds of anxieties.
Anxiety is an umbrella term for the disorder, but there are different kinds of anxieties in modern-day research. Anxiety can be any of the following:
- General anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Separation anxiety
5) Treatment Doesn’t Work
FACT: Treatments work according to the CDC
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) said that people benefited from psychotherapy, and medications helped them improve their mood and coping skills. However, treatments for anxiety disorders often take time since it develops over time. You can’t treat a lingering illness overnight, just as you can’t lose the weight you gained for the past years in just one cardio exercise.
Neurobiology and medicine have constantly looked for more effective treatments in managing and treating anxiety. However, the human brain is a wonder of nature, and it still hides many secrets that are yet to be discovered. If you suffer from anxiety or have recently come across common misconceptions about its treatments, now you know better.
Roots TMS offers cutting-edge treatment to help you regain control of your life. We provide treatment programs for depression and anxiety through psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and transcranial magnetic stimulation. Let our team of mental health professionals help you get better.
Take the all-important next step now. Set up an appointment, and a mental health professional will explain our admission process and services to you. You can also reach us by calling 562-203-0567.