Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the Unites States, affecting 40 million adults in the U.S. aged 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.1

Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet less than 40% of those suffering from anxiety get the help that they need.  Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality and life events.2

Anxiety disorders are treatable and the vast majority of people with an anxiety disorder can be helped with professional care.

Myth: Snap a rubber band on your wrist every time you have a negative thought.

Reality: Studies show that suppressing your thoughts makes them stronger and more frequent. Think of it this way: the thoughts you resist persist.


Myth: If a panic attack gets too bad, you can pass out or lose control.

Reality: It’s unlikely that you will faint, which is caused by a sudden drop in blood pressure. During a panic attack your blood pressure does not fall; it actually rises slightly.


Myth: If you’re dealing with anxiety, it’s important to avoid stress and situations that make you feel “stressed”.

Reality: Treating yourself as if you are fragile and avoiding risk often leads to feeling demoralized. Avoiding anxiety tends to reinforce it. You can be anxious and still do whatever you have to do.


Myth: Always carry a paper bag in case you hyperventilate.

Reality: Paper bags can serve as safety crutches that keep you anxious about being anxious. Hyperventilation, while uncomfortable, is not dangerous.


Myth: The causes of anxiety disorders are usually rooted in childhood.

Reality: Research shows that effective treatment focuses on the here and now, including new skills to manage thoughts, emotions, discomfort and behavior.


Myth: Medications for anxiety are addictive so they should be taken only if absolutely necessary.

Reality: SSRI and SNRI antidepressants are not addictive. Benzodiazepines might be helpful in the short term, but they can lead to increased tolerance and dependence after long-term use.


Myth: Medication is the only treatment for anxiety disorders.

Reality: Medication can be effective. But scientific research shows that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) may be just as or more effective than medication (or a combination of CBT and medication) for most people, especially in the long run.


Myth: Some people are just “worry warts” or neurotic and there is nothing that can really make a difference.

Reality: Therapy can help you reduce worry and suffering and learn a different relationship to your own thoughts, regardless of your temperament and how long “neurotic” habits have been in your life.


Myth: If you eat right, exercise, avoid caffeine, and live a healthy lifestyle, your anxiety will go away.

Reality: While some of your anxiety might go away, your condition won’t be cured. Anxiety disorders are certainly sensitive to stress, but stress does not cause them. Most of us need more help than just reducing our stress. We may need to face our fears, learn new facts about our symptoms, stop avoiding, learn tolerance for some experiences, or change how you think, feel and behave with respect to other people.


Myth: A never-ending supply of compassionate reassurance from family and friends and assistance in avoiding stress are good for someone with anxiety problems.

Reality: Well-meaning friends and family can inadvertently get caught up in reassurance compulsions and also help to maintain fears by keeping you from facing them. Compassionate and kind encouragement to move through anxiety and doubt, instead of avoiding them, is usually more helpful.

If you are struggling with anxiety and need information, support and/or a referral to get professional help, there is hope.

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