Learn how to tell anxiety myth from fact.

Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in the United States.

More than 40 million American adults suffer from anxiety disorders, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). That accounts for about 18 percent of the population.

Even though anxiety disorders are common, there are many misconceptions that can cause stigma for people who suffer from them. Read on to learn some of the facts about anxiety.

How Serious Is Anxiety?

Myth: Anxiety is no big deal.

Fact: Anxiety can cause significant problems to your health.

Many people experience anxiety in everyday situations, such as when they’re taking a test or going through a job interview. But anxiety can become a problem if it starts to affect your ability to go through everyday life.

Anxiety can cause behavioral and emotional symptoms like persistent worries, fears, and thoughts. It also can cause physical symptoms like rapid breathing, sweating, tense muscles, and headaches. It can affect your eating and sleeping.

It’s important to talk to your doctor if you think your anxiety is causing you bigger problems.

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What Are the Types of Anxiety?

Myth: All anxiety is the same.

Fact: There are several different types of anxiety disorders.

Anxiety affects people in different ways. Some people may experience anxiety related only to certain situations, while others experience it more constantly.

Common types of anxiety include:

  • General anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Phobias
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Separation anxiety

Who Suffers From Anxiety?

Myth: Anxiety is a problem mostly for adults.

Fact: Anxiety affects both children and adults.

Although anxiety is the most common mental illness for adults, it’s also common in children. About 7 percent of children aged 3-17 years old (about 4.4 million kids) have diagnosed anxiety, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Anxiety can cause children behavioral, emotional, and physical symptoms in children, just as they can in adults.

Anxiety and Depression

Myth: Anxiety and depression are unrelated.

Fact: Many people who suffer from anxiety also suffer from depression.

It’s common for people to have both depression and an anxiety disorder. According to the ADAA, 50 percent of people with depression also have a diagnosed anxiety disorder.

And it’s not just depression. According to the ADAA, anxiety is related to several other mental and physical health conditions:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Sleep disorders
  • Substance abuse
  • Attention deficit/hyperactive disorder
  • Headaches
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Chronic pain
  • Fibromyalgia

Can Anxiety Be Treated?

Myth: There are limited treatment options for anxiety.

Fact: Anxiety is a very treatable condition.

Although anxiety disorders affect millions of Americans, many go without treatment. According to the ADAA, only 36.9 percent of people with diagnosed anxiety disorders seek treatment.

There are several different treatment options for anxiety.

  • Therapy: Meeting with a licensed therapist can help you work through your anxiety disorder. Many different options exist, including one-on-one sessions and group therapy. You can meet with your therapist in person or by using a telemedicine option.
  • Medication: Often used in conjunction with therapy, several different types of medication can treat anxiety. The four major groups of medications are:
    • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
    • Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)
    • Benzodiazepines
    • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Complementary and alternative medicine, including meditation and other practices
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS): The use of a magnetic field to create a small electric current in the brain. They stimulate nerves in a specific part of the brain.

Treatment can help relieve your anxiety and improve your quality of life.

Can I Cure My Own Anxiety?

Myth: I can get rid of my anxiety with a healthy lifestyle.

Fact: While you may be able to lessen your anxiety, it may not be cured.

Maybe you feel better after getting some exercise, or eating healthy, or getting a good night’s sleep. Maybe you cut out caffeine or other stimulants. Maybe you may choose to try natural or homeopathic methods to manage your symptoms, such as mediation, dietary changes, engagement in preferred hobbies or activities, or deep breathing. Maybe you avoid stressful situations altogether.

While doing some or all of that may make you feel better in the moment, it won’t cure your anxiety disorder. It’s important to seek out professional treatment to confront the causes of your anxiety disorder, instead of just trying to reduce stress.

For more information, contact: UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital at 412-624-1000 or toll free at 1-877-624-4100.

Sources

Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Myths and Misconceptions About Anxiety. Link

Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Facts & Statistics. Link

Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Treatment. Link

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Anxiety and Depression in Children. Link

DO Something, 11 Facts About Anxiety. Link

National Institute of Mental Health, Anxiety Disorders. Link

SANE Australia, Anxiety Disorder. Link

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, What Are the Five Major Types of Anxiety Disorders? Link

For Journals and Media sources:National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Division of Viral Diseases. Enterovirus D68. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Link

For News sources:Dr. Amesh Adalja. A Back to School Victim-Finding Spree for Enterovirus 68. Tracking Zebra. Link

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