Anxiety is the most common mental health disorder in the US – affecting 40 million adults aged 18 or older. With this shocking statistic, you would think that people are more aware of the symptoms of anxiety, the different disorders a person can suffer with and how to help a loved one deal with it. But that’s not the case. Because anxiety is an emotion that everyone feels, it can be hard to seperate the emotion from the disorder. This leads people to not understanding that feeling extreme anxiety can be emotional and physically debilitating. In this article Psych2Go shares with you 5 common misconceptions about anxiety:
1) Anxiety and nervousness aren’t the same
Feeling nervous before a job interview, meeting the in-laws or a work presentation is completely normal. Sometimes that extra shot of adrenalin can actually be useful. However when you’re feeling that nervous energy everyday sometimes for no apparent reason you could be suffering from an anxiety disorder. People often think that it’s totally okay for nervous energy to be your default emotion and you should just ‘get on with it’. But that’s often why anxiety can be left untreated. It’s important to know the difference to ensure you can get help if you need it.
This exact misconception stopped me from getting help earlier. I was always a nervous child, and didn’t realise that I shouldn’t be feeling anxious all the time and that I needed help.
2 ) Anxiety can cause physical symptoms as well
It’s not just ‘feeling butterflies’ in your stomach, often the sufferer can feel physically sick, feel faint and dizzy, and sweat an inordinate amount. If the anxiety then leads into a panic attack, the physical symptoms practically double and can include:
Numb hands and feet,
Ringing in the ears,
Shortness of breath,
Tingling in the hands and feet,
And temporary paralysis.
These are just some of the symptoms, and can occur anytime you feel anxious.
3) Anxiety can take many different forms
There’s no specifics on what can make a person anxious, thus meaning there’s many different types of disorders. What one sufferer might find difficult another might find it easy, as it is with most things in life. Just because someone who has anxiety enjoys public speaking doesn’t mean they’re making it up, just that it’s not something they find challenging. It’s important to understand that everyone’s different and not to invalidate the struggles of someone else. Different situations affect people if different ways.
4) Feeling anxious can come entirely out of nowhere
Often you can experience the feelings of anxiety without actually understanding what has set you off. Anxiety isn’t always intense worry over a certain thing, like an interview or social situation. There’s been many times when my anxiety has felt like an internal wave thats come rushing out of nowhere. When your anxiety is like this its very difficult to prevent or control because you’re not sure what set you off. Which, again, is incredibly scary.
5) Anxiety is very hard to control
Whether the anxiety has been triggered by a specific thing or come crashing out of nowhere, it’s very hard to control. With anxiety your brain often snowballs and gets caught in a never ending spiral of ‘what if’ scenarios. Trying to break this habit takes time and effort, and even if you’ve been working at it it’s still difficult to get your thought process out of the spiral and back to normal.
What misconceptions annoy you the most regarding anxiety? Psych2Go would love to know! Leave a comment below!