Stereotypes are everywhere. No matter what identities you hold, there are bound to be stereotypes that pop up now and again. These can eat people alive, and stereotypes about anxiety are no different.
As I’ve shared my journey with anxiety in the past [insert link to “My Journey With Anxiety” article also publishing this week] I won’t dive into too much detail about what I have experienced, but what I can say is that I’ve heard them all. We all learn (or should learn) as children how badly words can hurt, but when it comes to people with anxiety, hurtful words can, and often do, hang around in your mind for weeks, months, and even years.
While this list can never cover everything, there are some things that people with anxiety hate hearing, myself included.
Let’s break them down:
1.) Anxiety is the same as being nervous
Anxiety is not always the same as being nervous. And people who have anxiety disorders do not necessarily always have anxiety when they are nervous. Anxiety is typically deeper than “just nerves” and can easily spiral into something much deeper. Because of the strong ties that anxiety disorders have to depression and suicidal thoughts, dismissing anxiety as nervousness can ultimately result in these conditions developing further. Having anxiety can result in panic attacks, an inability to work, relationship difficulties, etc. More information on the differences can be found here.
2.) People with anxiety don’t like to go out
This is not true. In some cases, people with anxiety might struggle to go out or not want to go out, but anxiety doesn’t always have to be the end all be all of why someone isn’t going out. I love spending time with my friends and going out to dinner, but a club scene would be uncomfortable for me personally. I think that there is a balance, so don’t just assume that your anxious friend won’t want to go out and celebrate your birthday—they might just want to do it in a more low-key way.
3.) Therapy is useless/Therapy is a cure
There are a lot of people who think very negatively toward Therapy, but this is something that shouldn’t be negative. Everyone has different things that they do to help with their anxiety, and for some people, therapy doesn’t work, but for others it is the best thing that can do. No matter what, there is nothing wrong with going to Therapy for your mental illnesses. It is important to remember though that while therapy is great for some people, myself included, it is not a cure. Just because someone goes to therapy or is in therapy doesn’t make them better or erase their anxiety or past experiences. Therapy provides tools to live with anxiety disorders, but those mental illnesses will always be there.
4.) Taking medication isn’t acceptable
Whoever has been telling you not to take medication for your anxiety needs to stop. There is nothing wrong with needing help, and there is nothing wrong with taking a daily pill to do that. Additionally, there is nothing wrong with any other type of pill used to reduce anxiety. Whatever you decide to do, just make sure that you are checking in with your doctor first, so that you make sure you are doing what is most healthy for you based on your existing medical conditions and family history.
5.) If you have anxiety there is something wrong with you
If you have an anxiety disorder, there is nothing wrong with you. Anxiety disorders come from a variety of different places, as explained by this article from the Mayo Clinic. This is why different things are triggering to different people, since everyone’s anxiety disorder comes from a different place to begin with.