I thought I would do a post on the myths surrounding anxiety and debunk them. I get and have been so frustrated in the past when people make comments about anxiety that just show they don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s so important that people try to understand mental health as much as possible so I hope something in this piece is useful for someone somewhere! As usual, feedback is really appreciated and if you think of any more misconceptions I would love to hear them and try to explain/refute them!
“go for a walk, do some yoga and eat right. That will cure your anxiety!”
The amount of times I have heard this… If only it were true. Imagine that though, to cure an actual disorder by having an apple and going into downward dog! Incredible. Impossible. Although these things may help with stress and anxiety disorders are sensitive to stress, stress does not cause the onset of the actual anxiety. It takes more than just reducing stress to be cured.
“anxiety can’t be called an illness”
Anxiety disorders are partly mental but the physical symptoms that come with them are substantial and often forgotten about by others. Symptoms I personally have experienced include a racing heart, hyperventilating, tightness in the chest, insomnia, lack of concentration and even delusions where I thought I was dying. (This night was the worst of my life. I was in hospital with no visitors allowed and during my delusion I facetimed Mum and told her I thought my brain was swelling and that I was about to die. Not fun.)
“I’m so worried about my upcoming exam. I have anxiety.”
Anxiety is extremely debilitating and distressing to the person and those around them at times and is so much more complex than just worrying. You need to have a certain amount of symptoms for more than 6 months to be diagnosed officially. Besides, a certain amount of worry is normal and can actually be helpful in getting things done ahead of time, whether it’s for school, work or surrounding personal life.
“You can’t have anxiety, you’re not even shy!”
SMH. Anyone can have anxiety. Even the most extroverted person you know. Even the most “care-free”, loud and confident person you know. Most of the time I would say my anxiety is not noticeable but that doesn’t mean I’m not struggling immensely. I used to avoid any anxiety-provoking situation like meeting up with friends and really doing anything out of the house. From the outside you would just hear my excuses and assume they were true. I never let on it was due to my anxiety and low mood. This is one of the main reasons why its so important to check on your friends. Like really check up on them. People will surprise you with their kindness so also if you’re on the other end, reach out! From starting this blog I have realised how much people care and are willing to listen. So please, take my advice and talk to someone! 💖
“Give it a few weeks and you won’t have anxiety any more”
This is just not true. Anxiety disorders don’t just go away with time. They also don’t just disappear when a stressful situation (like exams) finish. Luckily, there are loads of different options for treatment including psychological therapies, medications and also self-management techniques that can be learnt.
“Just get over it.”
There is no on and off button for anxiety. Whilst that seems obvious, so many people assume that people struggling with anxiety can simply ‘get over it’. I think many people greatly under-appreciate the extremity of the effects of anxiety on a person, both psychological and physical.
“Only women have anxiety”
Ha! Although anxiety is almost twice as common amongst women than in men, men still obviously can have anxiety disorders and of course other mental health issues too.
“Taking medication means your weak and too lazy to fix the problem by yourself”
Firstly, since when was an illness a “problem” that needs to be solved instead of a condition that needs to be treated? The stigma around taking medication for psychiatric disorders is overwhelming and one that won’t disappear overnight but it is so important that for those who are lucky enough to not have experienced the need for medication, to be aware of the type of language they use surrounding drug therapies. Medication does not mean you are “cheating” or “lazy”. You wouldn’t dream of saying to a cancer patient that they were lazy for undergoing chemo, would you?
As always I hope this post was useful and I hope you all have a lovely day. Lots of love xxxx