- Anxiety isn’t normal.
Anxiety IS a normal part of life – it’s your body’s natural reaction to a perceived danger and exists to make us take action in a potentially threatening situation. The problem arises when you are perceiving dangers when there aren’t any … and the resulting feelings of anxiety are beginning to really impinge on your quality of life.
- It’s helpful to avoid whatever is making you anxious.
In situations of real danger then yes, this is of course true. The anxiety that you feel when faced with a speeding car makes you step out of the way. But, if you’re feeling anxiety at a social situation, for example, avoiding it means that you never get the chance to actually find out that interacting with others can sometimes be fun. Avoidance simply validates the original misplaced fear.
- Anxiety doesn’t have physical symptoms.
There ARE lots of physical symptoms associated with anxiety including breathing problems, palpitations, dizziness, nausea to name just a few. And guess what … when you start to experience these symptoms, it makes you feel even more anxious. It really is a very scary vicious circle.
- Anxiety sufferers must have had a traumatic experience in their past.This is certainly not necessarily true. Whilst Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) may be linked to a specific trauma, generalised anxiety has its roots in brain chemistry, genetics and personality traits. Don’t assume you know why someone has anxiety!
- “Have a drink – you’ll feel better.”No! Alcohol is not a quick fix for anything – it certainly won’t solve any mental health issues that you have. By all means enjoy a glass of wine but don’t mistake it for therapy! And since alcohol is actually a depressant, don’t depend on it to improve your mood – it won’t.
- There’s nothing you can do about anxiety.There are lots of things you can do about anxiety – whether you’re suffering yourself or you’re supporting someone else. There are lots of self-help guides out there, blogs with tips on coping strategies, and counsellors, therapists and organisations who can help.
- Anxious people are weak.Anxiety isn’t a character-flaw – it can happen to anyone, judging isn’t helpful.
- Having anxiety is no big deal.For someone with a specific anxiety issue, it really IS a big deal. Think about feeling fearful about doing an everyday, normal activity, something that most people do without even thinking about it… that really is a big deal. Anxiety can make your life seems very small – overcoming it can open up a whole new world of opportunity.
- Anxious people are just being dramatic and illogical.Most people with anxiety actually KNOW that many of their fears are illogical – but it’s not that simple. Knowing something is one thing but controlling it is another. Which is why the following isn’t the way to support someone with anxiety ….
- Telling someone to calm down is helpful.It’s not! I’ve written a blog to advise on supporting people with anxiety – telling them to calm down doesn’t feature! To read it, go to:http://blog.bluebell-therapy.co.uk/anxiety/supporting-people-with-anxiety/