7 Myths about Anxiety

 medium_4599849705Myth 1. Anxiety is natural

Anxiety might be common but it isn’t natural. The fact that anxiety rates in present-day Africa and Asia are far lower than in the West points to this as does the fact that it is almost non-existent in so-called ‘primitive’ cultures. It is arousal that is natural and anxiety is largely exaggerated (and malignant) arousal. Anxiety disorders are created when thinking centres in the brain are allowed too much time to dwell on worry, perfectionism, guilt and other wrong thinking habits.

Myth 2. Worrying can be useful

While finding solutions to concerns can be helpful worry is not useful at all. The problem with worry is that it tends to focus on catastrophes that probably will not happen or on issues you cannot influence. Concerns, by contrast, relate to real life problems that are there right in front of you and which you can influence – meaning you can reduce the problem, find a solution, or get some help.

Myth 3. Medical drugs are the solution for anxiety disorders

Benzodiazepines such as Valium, Librium and Xanax are only effective for a few weeks before the effects wear off. Anti-depressants such as Citalopram smother the anxiety but don’t remove the problem or its cause.

Myth 4 You need to understand the cause of your anxiety in order to work with it

The only ’cause’ you need to know about is that anxiety is triggered by negative thinking which, in turn, sets off the alarm system centred on the amygdala. It is not necessary to establish where the negative thoughts came from. In fact, in many cases exploring the source of the problem can worsen the anxiety. This is because dwelling on past history fosters the idea that anxiety is ‘deep-rooted’ or has ‘become part of my personality’ and is therefore difficult to remove. Plus, of course, dwelling on negative thoughts brings on the problem again.

Myth 5 Anxiety is caused by stress.

Since stress does not exist it cannot be the cause of the problem. See my article on this here. The cause of stress is right there in the Conscious Mind; it isn’t triggered by external events.

Myth 6. Positive thinking is the solution for anxiety

Positive thinking typically involves people telling themselves half-truths like ‘I can conquer all my fears’, ‘I am a wonderful person’, or ‘I am strong/confident/invincible, etc’. The problem is that affirmations can make the problem worse if the person fails to live up to them and suffers a panic attack. Thus strengthening the underlying belief that nothing can be done about anxiety. The correct approach to anxiety is to ignore it, not to play around with thoughts.

Myth 7. Anxiety is difficult to resolve.

Anxiety is simple to solve although it may entail some hard work . The hard bit is training yourself daily to switch your attention away from it. That is why Mindfulness is an effective tool in the treatment of anxiety. I speak as someone who between the ages of 18 and 33 had anxiety every day and panic attacks several times a week. I rarely have the problem now.

photo credit: Photo Extremist via photopin cc

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