ANXIETY: FACT OR FICTION
Dr Rasha Bassim throws light on a list of myths and misconceptions associated with anxiety disorder.
Like other mental health disorders, anxiety is falsely thought to result from, or be a sign of, a weak personality with an inability to endure stress. The reality is that anxiety is a mental disorder resulting from a complex display of biological factors (genetic, hormonal, biochemical) and social factors (childhood upbringing and other life experiences). There are many myths that are associated with anxiety disorders. Let’s clear those up.
Myth There is only one type of anxiety disorder.
Truth There are many types of anxiety disorders. These are: Generalized anxiety disorder Obsessive compulsive disorder Panic disorder Post-traumatic stress disorder Phobias Social anxiety Myth Medication is the only form of treatment for anxiety.
Truth Cognitive behavioural therapy is the core treatment. Medication can be prescribed in cases of more severe disorders.
Myth It is usually obvious when someone has anxiety.
Truth Not true! You might be sitting next to a well-groomed smiling young woman or man who is experiencing heart palpitations, has tingling in both hands, a dry mouth and chest tightness and you could have no idea.
Myth You just need to eat healthily, sleep well and exercise and your anxiety will go away.
Truth Yes, this advice is very important to ease the symptoms, however the disorder will not be cured. You need to do more than just reduce levels of stress – you need to learn more about your symptoms, understand your thought processes, and re-learn how to process stressful situations in your life.
Myth You don’t have to treat it, it can go away on its own.
Truth Anxiety does not fade away on its own, and if left untreated, it gets complicated with new symptoms, and can lead to depression. Myth Anxiety disorders are not common. Truth Anxiety disorder is the one of the most common mental health illness. According to the WHO, anxiety disorder is the most prevalent and can impact up to 18.2 per cent of the population.
Myth Medications for anxiety are addictive.
Truth There are a number of anti-anxiety medications used for the treatment of anxiety that are not addictive. A qualified psychiatrist can advise on these. Myth Anxiety attacks will make you faint. Reality You may feel dizzy, but it is unlikely that you will faint.