Debunking the 5 Most Common Myths About Anxiety


Despite over 40 million American adults suffering from anxiety, the disorder remains highly stigmatized. Because of the myths about anxiety, only an average of one-third of people struggling with the disorder seek treatment. 

At Crescent City Psychiatric, we offer individualized anxiety treatment in Louisiana. Our team wants to end the stigma around mental health disorders, so starting with debunking the most common myths surrounding generalized anxiety disorder. 

Anxiety Myths and Why They Aren’t True

Dozens of myths circulate around the topic of mental health. The most common myths we hear about anxiety include the following:

Myth 1: Anxiety Is Just Stress or Shyness, Not an Illness

Feeling stressed about an upcoming meeting at work or nervous to go on a first date isn’t the same as having an anxiety disorder. Unfortunately, many people confuse anxious feelings with anxiety disorder, causing the illness to seem less severe. 

Anxiety disorder is an illness that persists through daily life for months at a time, regardless of the circumstances. People with anxiety exhibit physical symptoms on a regular basis, even when they aren’t in stressful situations. Social anxiety disorder can cause you to feel extreme levels of panic surrounding seemingly mundane situations, like going grocery shopping or having a conversation with close friends. 

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual defines anxiety disorder as diagnosable after one experiences persistent symptoms for six months. Anxiety can be just as debilitating as any other chronic illness.If you are experiencing anxiety, and the anxiety is causing impairment with work, school, or interpersonal. relationships, you may have an underlying anxiety disorder. 

Myth 2: Anxiety Doesn’t Present Physical Symptoms

One of the most common myths about anxiety surrounds its symptoms. Anxiety can cause severe and often debilitating physical symptoms. The disorder typically triggers a flight-or-fight response that releases hormones throughout your body, such as cortisol, causing all sorts of uncomfortable effects, including the following:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest pain
  • Shaking
  • Nausea 
  • Light-headedness
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • And more

Clinical research shows that 44% of people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition causing numerous gastrointestinal symptoms, also have anxiety. Anxiety can negatively affect your body in numerous ways, causing constant discomfort. 

Myth 3: Anxiety Doesn’t Require Treatment

Anxiety symptoms are persistent and usually not go away on their own. Many falsely assume that you can reverse anxiety by forgetting about certain topics or avoiding stressful situations. However, the truth is that anxiety is a disorder that requires usually treatment, especially if the anxiety causes impairment with work, school, or interpersonal relationships

Treatment doesn’t have to involve medications. Cognitive behavioral therapy, exercise, problem-solving strategies, relaxation techniques, meditation, and other strategies can effectively improve anxiety, depending on the patient. 

Anxiety typically comes in waves. When stress is high, anxiety can be problematic for an individual, especially if the individual does not understand the pathology or triggers to their anxiety. 

On the other side of the spectrum, everyone has anxiety to some degree. Some low levels of anxiety may actually help improve performance such as improving attention or focus when a work deadline is near or helping students study for an exam that is scheduled for the next day. However, when anxiety starts to get to a level of moderate to severe severity, treatment may be appropriate. 

Myth 4: Anxiety Only Occurs From Specific Situations

Many falsely assume that anxiety only arises when you place yourself in stressful or overwhelming situations. People with a diagnosed anxiety disorder will experience symptoms regardless of the situation. Avoiding stressful events can even make anxiety worse, as it increases avoidance levels rather than improving how you manage exposure. 

Anxiety demands to be felt. You may have a perfect, stress-free, relaxing day and still feel the persistent symptoms. The illness will not go away based on situational cues because it is an illness, not a temporary reaction. Sometimes patients have a chemical imbalance such as low serotonin or GABA. This balance can be restored through a combination of medication management or cognitive behavioral therapy, or a combination of the two. 

Myth 5: Anxiety Disorders Aren’t Common

Anxiety is  the most common mental disorder, affecting around one-third of adults in the United States at some point in their lifetime. About 19.1% of adults in the U.S. struggle with an anxiety disorder every year. 

Numerous types of anxiety disorders exist with ranging levels of prevalence. The most common types of anxiety disorders are specific phobias of particular objects or situations and social phobias. Both of these conditions have a lifetime prevalence. 

Do You Think You May Have Anxiety? 

Myths about anxiety only contribute to the stigma around mental health. Anxiety is a debilitating illness affecting one in every three adults in our nation. If you think you may have anxiety, schedule a psychiatric evaluation with the Crescent City Psychiatric in Louisiana by calling (985) 249-1322 so we can create an individualized treatment plan for tackling your symptoms and improving your quality of life.