Many people do not understand the nature of anxiety. Here are some commonly held beliefs:
Anxiety is caused by chemical imbalances
There is no evidence to suggest that chemical imbalances are behind anxiety disorders. Our mind influences our body as much as our body influences our mind. Medication can be helpful in some cases, however treatment with medication alone also has the highest relapse rate of all treatments.
Anxiety is genetically inherited
There is no specific gene for anxiety. We learn behaviours socially, especially from our parents. Children of anxious parents are likely to cope in the same way when dealing with challenges in life. The good news is, this also means we can learn new behaviours to cope in more effective ways.
Anxiety is very difficult to treat
Many approaches have been successful in treating anxiety. The latest evidence shows that cognitive and behavioural approaches are the most effective in the treatment of anxiety. It is no surprise as those approaches focus on skill building, changes in thinking and coping strategies.
Anxiety is an illness
An illness is not negotiable. Anxiety is caused primarily by our thinking processes and how we see the world. By learning how to shift coping styles and perceptions, anxiety can be overcome and managed.
Exercise and diet can successfully treat anxiety
Exercise and a healthy diet can assist in improving health and create a general sense of well being. However, they cannot be considered a treatment on its own, but rather a supplementary activity as part of a treatment plan.
You can treat anxiety with relaxation strategies
Relaxation strategies such as breathing exercises and meditation can momentarily soothe an anxious mind. However, it does not address the underlying causes of anxiety, thereby only providing temporary relief.
You need to explore your childhood to resolve past issues.
Approaches such as psychoanalysis try to resolve anxiety issues by looking into the past. Of all psychological approaches today, this has been proven to be an ineffective way to treat anxiety. After all, looking into the past does not address present coping strategies.
Anxiety is common but very treatable. Left untreated, anxiety can often turn into depression so it’s important to act quickly.
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