01 Nov 6 common misconceptions about anxiety
Unreasonable anxiety, panic attacks, frightening situations or memories – our alarm has many forms and guises, but invariably one thing: excessive anxiety worsens the quality of life. The clinical psychologist Nooam Shippers describes typical prejudices that interfere with work with this problem.
Anxiety is one of the most common problems that people turn to a psychotherapist. It manifests itself differently. One complains of chronic unreasonable anxiety, the other is afraid of certain things, situations or a negative assessment of others. For some, anxiety is associated with memories of past injuries, and someone can suffer from exhausting panic attacks and related symptoms: a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, sweating, trembling and dizziness.
Excessive anxiety seriously worsens the quality of life. Fortunately, you can cope with these problems by combining drugs and psychotherapy.
For a quarter of a century, I have been flying anxiety disorders and often noticing some erroneous assumptions and habits in patients that interfere with successful work with anxiety. Here are the most common misconceptions.
1. The belief «If nothing is done, my anxiety will continue to grow endlessly»
Many of those who know about alarm firsthand quickly recognize the approach of a panic attack. You are busy with something. Suddenly you begin to breathe heavily, your head is dizzy, your heart beats with frequent, it seems to you that you are crazy. Feeling how your anxiety is growing, you say to yourself that if you do nothing, the symptoms will continue to grow with every minute and will get worse and worse. The logic is clear, but this is an erroneous forecast.
In fact, the connection between the symptoms of panic and the time is not linear: it can rather be portrayed in the form of an inverted letter U. At first, the symptoms intensify, then reach the peak, and then decrease. This is largely associated with the physiological process of addiction, in which the prolonged effect of the same stimulus leads to a decrease in the excitation of the nervous system and, therefore, to a decrease in anxiety.
People with anxious disorders rarely know about this, because they strive to avoid discomfort before they enter the zone of addiction. So an important part of the treatment of anxiety includes the skill to withstand unpleasant symptoms to give its nervous system the time to adapt and notice the relief of the state.
2. Avoiding or delaying the onset of a frightening action
When you feel fear, standing in line to jump from a springboard in the pool, anxiety can make you go forward all those who are behind you to delay the frightening moment. Alas, delaying the expectation, you extend your anxiety, which is usually much heavier than the event (jump) itself, because it is not limited by real parameters.
During the period of painful expectation, your alarmed mind is free to wrap, where he wants, and usually chooses catastrophic scenarios. In life, disasters are rare and unlikely. But in the imagination, on the contrary, they take place very often. Thus, the transition to the end of the line enhances your concern and, therefore, increases the risk of failure. It is always better to move towards your fear, and not from it.
3. Switching attention from the factor causing anxiety to its symptoms
Psychologist David Barlow proved that people who are worried about their sexual relations have something in common. Anxious thoughts («Are I good lover?») Occupy all their attention and distract from making love, which leads to predictably negative consequences. This is a common error outside the bedroom.
When we are alarmed, our protective mechanism “Bey or
Run” is activated, causing a number of irritating, distracting and anxious bodily symptoms. Discomfort occurs, it should be attempt to eliminate it, which in the short term means avoiding or flight. Skillful alarm management suggests that you perceive anxiety excitement as a call to focus on the current task, and not on the symptoms. The correct reaction to the sound of a fire alarm is not to turn it off and do not close your ears, but to fight with fire.
4. Mixing fear and danger: «I am afraid, therefore, I’m in danger»
Our mechanism of coping with stress developed at a time when danger and fear were closely connected. But today we live in a world where ancient signals of fear no longer indicate a real danger. It is important not to confuse them, but this will require some cognitive effort. When you feel anxiety, ask yourself: “I am in danger?»If not, then the symptoms of anxiety are just a noise, not a signal, and it is best to consider them – just as a noise.
Our self -awareness does not always correspond to our objective state. For example, drunk people often feel that they can work normally. In the midst of a manic episode, a person is sure that he can achieve anything. During a panic attack, we can feel that we do not own ourselves, but this is not so. Anyone who is experiencing a panic attack during driving, for example, will always find a way to safely stop the car and call help – this indicates self -control. Your feelings are a product of your mind, not the fact of the external world. Do not believe everything you feel.
5. Contempt for yourself for your anxiety
Many condemn themselves because in some situations they show excessive anxiety. They can scold themselves, consider it weak, stupid, believing that such self -abasement motivates them to improve and overcome their weakness. This is mistake. Self -confirmation is not a path to self -improvement. The right approach is to show compassion for yourself and curiosity, mastering the techniques of alarm management. Tell yourself: “A sense of anxiety is a feature of human nature. Let me accept this feeling, to recognize it better and treat myself with kindness, while I am just learning to cope with it ”.
6. Confidence that a good life is devoid of discomfort
Which of us does not like comfort? We are trying with all our means to avoid various kinds of inconvenience in everyday life, and this is normal. With the exception of the fact that discomfort is an inevitable part of our existence. The achievement of any goal that is significant for us entails many difficulties: marriage, raising children, business management. Therefore, although we spend a lot of time and energy on reducing discomfort, it is also useful to make some effort and learn how to endure inconvenience when the situation requires.