The way we think informs the actions we take. If what we think and believe is inaccurate, we can unintentionally limit our ability to make helpful choices. A healthy curiosity about the information we take in and accept as true is key.
Here are three common myths about anxiety that I hear time and time again that we need to set the record straight on!
1. Anxiety is Part of my Personality.
Put very frankly, no it’s not. You may have been more vulnerable, or predisposed, to anxiety due to your family history and life experiences but it is not part of your personality. When we view this as a personality trait, we often mistake it as fixed. Anxiety is an emotion that passes. Anxiety disorders are an illness and are treatable. By detaching yourself from the label of ‘anxious person’ or ‘worrier’ you can start to see this as a problem that can be solved.
2. I’ve had Anxiety for Years, so it’ll Take Years to Feel Better.
You may have struggled with anxiety for your whole life. It can take years before you even realise it is a problem (and not part of your personality) and so seek support. In therapy, people come to me with the assumption that it’s going to take as many years to treat anxiety and recover as it has taken to develop the problem in the first place. With the right treatment, it is possible for recovery to be achieved in a short space of time, sometimes a matter of weeks.*
3. Medication is the Only Treatment for Anxiety.
Medication is one treatment option and your GP can advise on the different types available. Therapy is another option. The clinically recommended treatment for common mental health problems, including anxiety disorders is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which focuses on understanding and making changes to the way you think and behave. The recommended number of sessions across anxiety disorders ranges from approximately 8-20 sessions – further reinforcing the second point as a myth.
When we have the right information, we can make informed decisions!
*A note on recovery – it is true that you can eliminate symptoms of anxiety in a short space of time and so be in clinical recovery. However, recovery is an ongoing process and to remain in recovery, it’s important to maintain the changes made to achieve it in the first place.