Your heart races as your body begins to shake uncontrollably. Your eyes dart back and forth as your breathing grows shallow. A sudden ache in your chest only increases your concern.
While it might sound like a heart attack, the above symptoms describe one of the most common symptoms of an anxiety disorder, a panic attack.
Anxiety can be frightening and more than a little confusing. That’s why we’ve put together a collection of some of the most common anxiety facts and myths so you can separate fact from fiction.
Myth: Anxiety Isn’t Real
Out of all the misconceptions surrounding anxiety (and mental health in general), this is perhaps the most dangerous. The notion that anxiety is just in a person’s mind or is somehow their own doing only deepens the spiral of guilt a person might feel.
As a result, people may refrain from seeking treatment which can exacerbate symptoms.
Fact: It’s The Most Common Mental Health Condition in the World
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, over 40 million adults in the United States struggle with anxiety. That’s about 18.1% of the general adult population!
Despite this, only a small percentage seek treatment due to social stigmas.
Myth: You Can Get Over Anxiety
While this line of thinking at least admits that anxiety is real, it’s still sending a poor message.
Unfortunately, anxiety doesn’t work like a cold or a sprained ankle. People’s lives can improve, but there’s no real ‘cure’ for anxiety.
Fact: Treatments Ease Symptoms But Don’t ‘Fix’ Them
With that said, seeking treatment is always a great idea. Medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) are two great forms of treatment with a high success rate, especially when used together.
Together with a therapist, you’ll gain a better understanding of the underlying causes of your anxiety, as well as some helpful coping mechanisms that can keep you calm.
Research your local behavioral health center and see what resources are available to you.
Myth: Anxiety Medications Are Addictive and Dangerous
Anxiety medications are only dangerous if you’re allergic to any ingredients in them. Moreover, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, better known as SSRIs, aren’t known to be addictive.
At worst, SSRIs can have some side effects, though these are often mild.
Fact: There’s Nothing Wrong With Taking Medicine for Anxiety
While anxiety can be situational, from a neurological standpoint its caused by a misfiring of synapses. As a result, the brain has trouble creating certain chemicals that regulate the sympathetic nervous system, or the part of the brain responsible for the ‘fight or flight’ response.
Medications can correct many of these misfirings, thus regulating brain chemistry.
Help Bust Dangerous Misconceptions Using These Anxiety Facts
We hope this article clarified what anxiety is — and more importantly, what it isn’t. You can erase the stigma surrounding mental health by remembering these anxiety facts and talking with friends and loved ones about common mental health conditions.
And remember, there’s no shame in seeking treatment. The sooner you learn to manage your anxiety, the sooner you can get your life back on track.
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