Anxiety can be hard to recognize even if you are familiar with your own triggers and stressors. Anxiety can show up in a variety of ways through physical reactions (ex. Sweating, increased heart rate), emotional change (ex. Increase worry, sense of panic) and cognition or thoughts (ex. Racing thoughts, difficulty concentrating).
At the end of this, there will be an anxiety test that you can take to see if you are experiencing any anxiety symptoms. This is not meant to diagnose you, but help provide possible answers to questions you are asking yourself.
You can start therapy at any point whether you are feeling minor or intense feelings of anxiety.
Let’s dive into some myths about anxiety and check out the truth.
Myth 1: This is just a phase.
Truth: Yes, anxiety symptoms can come and go or be more intense and mild. Stressful situations can draw out common symptoms that one faces with anxiety, but when those symptoms outlast the situation is when it becomes a good time to seek assistance. You can find help with symptoms you experience to reduce the frequency and intensity. One way help can be found through individual therapy and working one-on-one with a licensed therapist.
Myth 2: I have to push through this.
Truth: It is an outdated statement to say someone can “buck up” or “oh, you’ll be fine”, this leaves us feeling invalidated and that our feelings need to step aside. What then happens is that you feel flooded when those feelings come back around. Providing validation to yourself, seeking that from those you trust and feel safe around, and tending to what your needs are will help you feel that anxiety is more manageable than before.
Myth 3: No one else is experiencing this.
Truth: It may feel like others are not experiencing anxiety or to the same degree as you which may feel isolating. There are roughly 6.8 million adults in the US who are reported experiencing generalized anxiety symptoms. It can feel exciting that a celebrity shares their struggles with mental health, but that may not exactly connect with you. Getting support can help you see anxiety in a different light and find tools to help manage. Support can look like individual therapy, support groups, and group therapy. These supports can help you find connection so you don’t feel like you are fighting your anxieties alone.
Myth 4: Everyone is experiencing anxiety so anxiety disorders must not be real.
Truth: You may feel the opposite from the above myth. It may feel that anxiety is common and those around you are talking about it more. This does not lessen your experience with anxiety. It is still real, it still impacts your day and causes you distress. A licensed therapist can help you work through these symptoms.
Myth 5: People tell me they don’t see my worry so I must be crazy.
Truth: You must have a great poker face! But…. that must also mean you hold a lot in. When you hold your emotions and feelings in and don’t express them, it can build up and feel overwhelming. I am not saying to say whatever comes to your mind to someone, I will talk in a later blog about “first draft emotions”. Rather you can find healthy ways to express your emotions. These ways can be explored with a therapist.
Myth 6: I have had anxiety before and figured things out, this time seems different.
Truth: Sometimes we stop getting the same results by doing the same thing. That is okay, that does not mean anything is wrong with you, but rather it is a time to try something new. By exploring new tools to cope and ways to regulate allows you to have more things at your disposal to manage your anxiety. A licensed therapist can help identify, explore, and practice these strategies with you.
Myth 7: I feel this will never go away.
Truth: Anxiety can feel overwhelming with no end in sight. Anxiety narrows our world down from what it once was, meaning it is hard for us to see beyond the anxiety we are experiencing. There is hope, many are able to reduce symptoms either through therapy, medication, or a combination of both. A therapist is able to help identify strategies and ways to reduce and manage what you are struggling with when it comes to anxiety.
Myth 8: If I just change my habits, my anxiety will go away.
Truth: Although changes to routines like eating healthier, exercising regularly, improving your sleep can be helpful, they are not always enough. Anxiety can go beyond those habits and may need to be discussed to identify specifics in therapy along with identifying other strategies to help.
Myth 9: I should avoid stressful situations so I won’t experience anxiety.
Truth: If only we had a crystal ball to predict everything, but even then we could miss something. We simply cannot predict everything and not that it is meant to be scary, this means that stressful situations can occur and are a natural part of life. You cannot always predict traffic, power outages, how much snow is actually going to fall, and even someone’s reaction. Avoiding situations all together can limit the enjoyment you once found in things as it narrows your world down. Working with a therapist can help you work through and help find ways to cope with these stressful situations.
Myth 10: I don’t have severe anxiety so I don’t need to see a therapist.
Truth: It is easier to work on things when it is at a manageable level, same thing goes for mental health. It is hard to work under pressure, especially when anxiety does not have a deadline. By addressing symptoms when they feel minor will help set yourself up to manage these symptoms if / when they intensify. Identifying triggers, specific symptoms, and what has worked and what has not will begin the process. You don’t have to do this process alone. It is challenging to review things and can be easier when working with a professional such as a therapist.
So why do I experience anxiety?
There can be a number of reasons, to make it very general, anxiety is trying to help protect us. It is our system saying “hey, I need your attention”. It may feel that it is getting your attention at inopportune times, those things can be worked through. Our brain is complex and does its best to help us, sometimes it just needs some refocusing. This is where therapy can help “rewire” your brain.
Curious to see how you are when it comes to an Anxiety Test?
The test can be found at Mental Health America by clicking the link here. Again this is not meant to diagnose you, but help provide possible answers to questions you are asking yourself.
Curious to see what therapy can do for anxiety?
Let’s work together on the anxiety you are experiencing. You deserve it!
Blog Disclaimer - These posts are not meant to treat, diagnose, or serve as a replacement for therapy. If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health emergency, please contact your local crisis center or dial 911. Here are more immediate resources as well.