Anxiety is a disorder that many individual suffer from on a regular basis. Being aware of what anxiety is, and gaining knowledge of this disorder, helps others interact with those suffering from anxiety in a way that makes them feel understood and supported.
With that said, I have compiled a list of phrases and statements that should NOT be said to those who have anxiety, in hopes to create awareness about mental health and also spread knowledge on this topic.
1. We all have anxiety
It’s true that we all have a certain degree of anxiety, but there’s a HUGE difference between getting anxious from time to time compared to living with anxiety and suffering from it on a regular basis.
When people tell you they have anxiety, don’t dismiss their condition by saying that it is “normal” and everyone has anxiety because they are most likely suffering from a mental health disorder that is effecting their life in a substantial way.
2. Move on from it already, and live your life the way you want to!
I wish it was that easy, I really do! As someone who has suffered from anxiety almost her entire life, I can tell you that you just can’t move on from it in an instant. Dealing with anxiety takes years and often requires numerous therapy sessions before anyone can see the light! So no, we can’t just move on from it!
3. There are so many articles and books on recovering from anxiety, just read them and you’ll be fine!
Again, I wish it was that easy! Yes, there are many resources out there nowadays to help those who have anxiety, but simply reading these resources doesn’t help you recover from anxiety.
Often times, people live with anxiety for so long, they become accustomed to a certain way of life and develop certain habits. This way of life and these habits won’t disappear after reading an article on anxiety. People with anxiety often know what they have to do to deal with anxiety, but taking the steps to get there is extremely difficult and usually requires assistance from a qualified professional, such as a therapist, to make those changes. Dealing with anxiety takes courage, time, and practise and is not something that will occur right after reading anything.
4. It’s all in your head
Trust me, it’s not; anxiety is REAL and it is a disorder so many people suffer from! Anxiety has real symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, and muscle tension. Some disorders related to anxiety are panic disorders, phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder, all of which have physical and emotional symptoms that prevent people from living a fully functioning life (source).
5. You don’t really have anxiety unless you have a panic attack
People with anxiety will have different symptoms, some will have panic attacks and some people won’t, some will suffer from extreme fatigue whereas others will not be able to sleep, some people will not have an appetite when they are triggered and others will eat more. Not everyone experiences anxiety in the same way!
6. You don’t look like you have anxiety
Anybody can have anxiety. Sometimes that confident person you see in real life has anxiety, it can be that blogger that appears outgoing, it can be your neighbour, relative, or co-worker too!
You may not even realize these individuals have anxiety because they appear to be functioning “normally,” but what you don’t see is their inner struggle, you don’t hear their heart beating fast, you don’t know about the panic attack they had the other day, you don’t know about their true thoughts because they are unable to verbally express them, you don’t know that they don’t easily trust people, you don’t see the barriers they build, and you don’t see the emotional pain they suffer from.
7. You seem so confident, are you sure you have anxiety?
Anxiety can fluctuate and each day (and even each part of the day) is unpredictable. There are times where I can leave my home and socialize with others, and be confident when interacting with others, and then there are days where leaving the home is a challenge and I will do anything to avoid socializing. When anxiety is triggered it can leave you feeling down and in a dark place, and you feel disassociated with yourself.
8. Anxiety only occurs from worrying about the future too much
Anxiety can occur for a number of reasons and it’s not always about worrying about the future. For instance, anxiety can be triggered from thoughts and memories of trauma caused in the past, and these thoughts and memories can prevent you from living fully in the present moment.