Don't Worry. Be Happy. (Hint:That's not the answer to Anxiety.)

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Don't Worry. Be Happy.

Probably the worst advice you can give to someone who suffers from anxiety.

Everyone experiences anxiety: dreading an exam, feeling nervous about making it to an appointment on time, getting agitated when things aren’t going as planned.These are all normal, typical examples of feeling anxious. For most people,these thoughts subside, and they are able to move on with their lives.

But those who suffer from anxiety are unable to move on and move through anxiety-provoking situations. Just as Depression is more than just “feeling down,” anxiety disorders are a very real mental health concern. Anxiety is not just one thing – it is actually a group of related disorders that present differently in each individual, yet have one thing in common: persistent, excessive fear or worry in situations that are not (in reality) threatening.

Through therapeutic interventions such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, ExposureTherapy and some pharmaceutical therapies, anxiety sufferers can get their anxiety under control and become anxiety managers because when anxiety is under control, it no longer has the power to derail a person from living theirlife and doing what they want to do. An important key to achieving that is knowing how to explain their anxiety to friends and family so that they don’t get unsolicited advice telling them “Don’t worry. Be happy.”

Anxiety Myths

Anxiety is a sign of personal weakness.
Like other brain health disorders, anxiety does not discriminate. It affects people of all ages and all walks of life. It does not affect ‘weak people,’ nor is it a sign of weakness. Many people avoid outside treatment and support because of this unreasonable stigma, and this perception needs to change.

All anxiety is the same.
Not true. There are many types of anxiety disorders, including:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Phobias

Anxiety Disorders will go away on their own.
No, they won't. Symptoms of anxiety are persistent and usually require treatment to subside.

People with anxiety should avoid stressful situations.
Stress -- and anxiety triggers -- are unavoidable in life. Situations that trigger an individual's anxiety can be completely innocuous to others, so there is no real way to predict and avoid anxiety-provoking situations. The right anxiety treatments can help people cope effectively with stressful situations.

Warning Signs of Anxiety

The Science Behind Anxiety

When a person is anxious, the amygdala (a part of the brain involved with experiencing emotions) and the limbic system (a part of the brain involved in our behavioral and emotional responses, especially those needed for survival: feeding, reproduction etc.) are overly active.

Risk factors of Anxiety include: Genetics -- Studies support the evidence that anxiety disorders “run in families,” as some families have a higher-than-average amount of anxiety disorders among relatives and Environment -- A stressful or traumatic event such as abuse, death of a loved one, violence or prolonged illness is often linked to the development of an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety Treatments

Each anxiety disorder has its own set of symptoms. Therefore, each anxiety disorder also has its own treatment plan. But there are common types of treatment that are used: Psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy (a type of therapy that teaches specific strategies and methods for regulating unwelcome thoughts, behaviors, and emotions) and Medication, including anti-anxiety medications and anti-depressants. Complementary health approaches, including stress and relaxation techniques like meditation and visualization.

Find out more about anxiety -- how to identify it and what to do about it at BrainHealthBootcamp.org

MEDICAL DISCLAIMER: Brain Health Bootcamp aims to promote education and awareness of mental health conditions among adolescents, families, and educators. We publish material that is researched, cited, and drawn from sources reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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