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3 Misconceptions We Have About Anxiety

In today’s climate, understanding mental health is essential – especially in the workplace environment. With increasing pressures on high-demand workloads, huge competition when it comes to securing work, and the rise in the cost of living, psychological pressures are very real and can impact on any one at any time. However, how well do we really understand one of the most common mental health struggles – anxiety? There are still misconceptions when it comes to anxiety, its symptoms, how we manage anxiety, and its cause. So, here are three popular misconceptions, and their realities when it comes to anxiety.

1 – Anxiety only happens to nervous people or introverts

The term ‘anxiety’ can be its own worst enemy. This is because many people associate the word as being the same thing as being ‘anxious’ aka ‘nervous’. But when it comes to mental health, anxiety is much more than just a bout of nerves or butterflies in the stomach. And living with anxiety will mean that seeking the appropriate care and tools for self-care will be vital. Even people with boundless confidence, success, social-prowess and seemingly high self-esteem can and do suffer with anxiety. This is because anxiety is a mental health condition, meaning it can happen to anyone for a multitude of reasons, some of which may not be obvious. This leads us to another common misconception…

2 – Symptoms of anxiety are obvious

Again, it is easy to mistake ‘anxiety’ for ‘nervousness’ meaning that we often picture symptoms such as nail-biting, panic, nausea, rocking back and forth – all physical symptoms that can be clearly associated with the issue. But this isn’t always the case. Yes, people with anxiety can suffer panic attacks and physical symptoms such as hair-pulling, nail-biting and even self-harm. But symptoms are not always that obvious. Sometimes, panic attacks can go unseen and anxiety can manifest in behaviours such as OCD, excessive cleaning, the inability to sleep, the inability to get up on a morning, social isolation, the inability to go outside or into a populated public space, and so on. It is important that we understand symptoms of anxiety and how they can impact on the day-to-day life of those living with anxiety issues. When we begin to understand it, we can begin to explore the ways in which we can manage the symptoms through self-care and professional care and advice.

3 – There is always an obvious cause

This just simply isn’t true. Many people experience anxiety in their lives without finding an ‘obvious’ cause because it is a complex mental health issue. Often, there is not one clear answer as to ‘why’. Sometimes, with the right help, we might be able to trace back to an incident or series of events that have led us to experience anxiety. But for others, it might not be so simple. As with depression, anxiety is not clear-cut, and the reasons why someone may be experiencing the symptoms of anxiety may be very unclear. However, the cause isn’t always the most important discovery when it comes to journeys of anxiety. Quite often, it is a recognition of the issue and then the techniques and tools available to help that are the most important milestones.

Anxiety can be associated with other mental health conditions such as depression, OCD and others such as bipolar, but it can be a stand-alone condition. The more we can understand about anxiety, the better we can explore and understand the ways in which we can manage it. Our mental health is just as (some will argue more so) important as our physical health. If we broke our leg, we wouldn’t try to ‘fix’ it ourselves, nor would we hide it. We would seek professional help. If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with anxiety, there is help out there: from medicines and talking therapies, to alternative therapies, meditation techniques and self-care coaching. Take care of your mental health.

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