Anxiety – Myths and facts

Myth: Social anxiety is the same as being shy.

Fact: Social anxiety is different from being shy.

The basic understanding is that social anxiety is a disorder, while shyness is an individual’s personality. Shyness can go away once the person adjusts to the situation or gets comfortable around people. Shy people don’t avoid social situations; initially, they feel awkward, but they try to blend in with the group, stay in the background, avoid interactions, or stay quiet. However, with known people, they are loud and comfortable. On the other hand, people with social anxiety go to extremes to avoid all social interactions because of excessive worry and fear of their performance and the people around them.

Myth: Anxiety is not a serious mental health issue.

Fact: Anxiety is a serious mental health issue.

Anxiety can cause significant physical and mental health issues if not treated. Anxiety goes beyond general worry and fear, debilitating and distressing an individual.

Myth: Anxiety disorders will go on their own.

Fact: The symptoms of anxiety disorder require treatment.

Anxiety can go away once the trigger factor disappears, but an anxiety disorder? The symptoms of anxiety disorders can occur frequently, even in a threat- or stress-free environment. Anxiety or panic attacks can happen, irrespective of the situation. To control the severity of the symptoms, treatment (counselling, therapy, or medication) is essential.

Myth: Anxiety disorders aren’t real because everyone has anxiety.

Fact: Everyone has anxious or fearful feelings, but not anxiety disorder.

There are clinical distinctions between normal day-to-day anxiety or fear and anxiety disorder.

People with anxiety disorder find it difficult to control their worries, irrational thoughts, and anxious feelings to the point that it causes significant distress and impairs their daily functioning. Whereas people who experience general fears or worries go on with their daily work, these fears or worries don’t cripple them.

Myth: Anxious people should avoid stressful situations.

Fact: Stress is inevitable; treatment and counseling can help you handle stressful situations.

Situations can become a trigger factor for the individual with anxiety, which can be overwhelming. Avoiding stressful situations can be seen as an easy way to handle the situation, but it is not easy to avoid as stress is associated with every part of our lives. The person should be equipped with effective coping strategies that can help them manage their anxiety in times of stress.

Keeping away from stressful situations can affect an individual’s functionality in their personal and professional lives. Learning effective ways to cope can help them improve their overall well-being.

Myth: Anxiety is the same as fear; they are all the same things.

Fact: Anxiety is a psychological condition, whereas fear is a natural response when exposed to a threat.

Although the two terms are different, the words are interchangeably used. Anxiety is an emotion characterized by a vague sense of apprehension and somatic symptoms of tension, in which the individual anticipates impending danger or misfortune. The individual often perceives a threat or something bad is going to happen to them. Anxiety is mostly associated with future events and irrational thoughts.

Fear is an emotional response to a known threat. For example, when you see a barking dog and feel scared that the dog will bite you, In this situation, the threat or danger is real, definite, and immediate. Fear is associated with a present threat or danger.


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