Learn how to avoid common anxiety mistakes and get on a path to mental wellness.
Living with anxiety can be challenging—so challenging you may find it difficult to seek a diagnosis or keep up with a treatment plan. But anxiety disorders often can be managed, and the path to lessening symptoms starts with reducing mistakes along the way. Learn more about the common errors people with anxiety sometimes make—from diagnosis to treatment—and how to avoid them for your own health and well-being.
Mistake #1: Misinterpreting Anxiety Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of an anxiety disorder can mimic the symptoms of a physical illness. As a result, many people minimize or misinterpret their symptoms and thereby delay seeking a diagnosis. For example, nausea might be related to food poisoning, but it also could be a sign of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). A sudden, racing pulse could be a sign of a heart condition, but it also could signal a panic attack. Instead of trying to self-diagnose, seek behavioral health assistance for physical symptoms that recur or persist with no known underlying medical condition.
Mistake #2: Thinking Anxiety Disorders Only Affect Adults
The symptoms of anxiety disorders often develop before age 21, so you should be alert to anxiety signs and symptoms in your school-age child. For example, an anxious child may worry excessively about ordinary events or situations, such as missing the bus to school despite having never missed it before. Suddenly dropping out of a favorite sport for ambiguous reasons or refusing to perform in a scheduled concert or performance at the last minute could be red flags. Also watch for frequent vague morning complaints like an upset stomach that cannot be attributed to a physical illness. Finally, keep an eye out for physical symptoms like unexplained weight loss, change in eating habits, self-harm (such as “cutting”), or substance misuse.
Although it’s true women are 60% more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety than men, the truth is anyone can experience an anxiety disorder. It’s possible men are not diagnosed as often as women because they may be less likely to seek help for a mental health issue. Anxiety disorders know no bounds in terms of sex, age or ethnicity. Anyone who exhibits the common signs and symptoms of anxiety should consider seeing a doctor.