If I have anxiety, I have to take medication.
False. Research suggests that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is at least as effective, if not more so, than medication alone. So, not all cases of anxiety need to be treated with medication. However, for some people, a combination of therapy and medication is most beneficial.
Medications used to treat anxiety are addictive.
False, mostly. Typically, a doctor will first prescribe an SSRI (like Prozac or Zoloft) or an SNRI (like Cymbalta or Effexor) for anxiety, both of which are not addictive. Benzodiazepines (like Xanax) may also be prescribed, but can be addicting.
A panic attack can cause me to pass out.
False. Actually, fainting happens when your blood pressure quickly decreases. When you’re experiencing a panic attack, your blood pressure increases.
I have anxiety, so I should avoid stressful situations.
False. When we avoid certain stressful situations or circumstances that cause us anxiety, or escape them as soon as they arise, we end up reinforcing the act of avoidance and/or escape. While it works in the moment (“Whew, I feel much better now that I know I’m not going to that event tonight!”), it ends up causes long-term distress. Next thing you know you haven’t ventured out in public for weeks, flown on a plane, gone on a date, pursued that degree or job, or [insert whatever your anxiety encourages you to avoid].
I’ve tried therapy before and it just didn’t work for me. Maybe I should try again.
True. If you’ve tried therapy before and didn’t find it helpful, it’s possible that you and your therapist were not a good match. In treatment, the relationship between therapist and client is the most important factor related to progress. So, take your time to find a therapist that you feel like you can establish a good relationship with. For treatment for a specific anxiety disorder, research shows that a focus on the “here and now” is most effective. Therapy should help teach and encourage you to tolerate and relate to your current anxiety differently than how you have in the past, and should include work specific to your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
As always, please feel free to email or call with any questions you might have. Even if you are not currently interested in treatment, I would be more than happy to answer your questions.