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Mythbusters: myths about anxiety

14 February 2022

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Anxiety is something many of us have experienced at some point in our lives, for example in job interviews, before a driving test or when we’re awaiting test results. In these examples feeling anxious is perfectly normal, however, if these feelings become overwhelming and disruptive in everyday life and start to be a regular occurrence then you might have an anxiety disorder. 

With there being such a wide range of information on the topic that might not all necessarily be true, it can be difficult to decipher the fact from the fiction. That’s why it’s important to seek medical help and get a potential diagnosis from a professional. 

We’re taking a look at 5 myths about anxiety that will help dispel some of those common misconceptions.

Anxiety is just worrying too much

There is a difference between those feelings of nervousness in certain situations and becoming so anxious that it interferes with your life and turns into an intense feeling of fear. It might start as someone feeling worried but it’s when that worry becomes excessive that an anxiety disorder might be diagnosed. 

Anxiety, in some cases, could prevent you from leaving the house or doing the activities that you once enjoyed; so it definitely isn’t just a case of worrying too much.

Less stress will cure anxiety

Removing stress from your life (which is impossible) won’t completely remove your anxiety. Finding ways to live a less stressful lifestyle will help your symptoms, but it won’t completely cure how you are feeling. 

Anxiety disorders aren’t caused by stress (although, it doesn’t help), it’s a combination of three factors; genetic, environmental and brain chemistry. 

Anxiety only affects your mind

Anxiety can affect you both physically and mentally. Symptoms of anxiety could include:

  • an increased heartrate
  • rapid breathing or difficulty breathing
  • muscle aches and tension
  • feeling sick
  • headaches1

For some people, it can also result in panic attacks which could cause you to feel faint, sweat, experience numbness or tingling, have hot flashes or a dry mouth.

It’s important to note that anxiety feels and appears differently for each person experiencing it.

Exercise won’t help reduce anxiety 

It may not be the first thing that people think of when it comes to looking for ways to reduce anxiety but exercising regularly can actually help ease the symptoms. 

According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, studies show that although the effects of exercise may be temporary, a brisk walk or other simple activity can deliver several hours of relief, similar to taking an aspirin for a headache.2

Physical activity can also increase self-confidence, help you relax and can even improve your sleep, which in turn will reduce your feelings of anxiety. 

Exercise can also be used as a distraction when you start getting anxious feelings to keep them at bay. A variety of exercises can help reduce anxiety, for example; swimming, running, walking. Even just getting outside into the fresh air.

Medication is the only treatment for anxiety

Being prescribed medication isn’t the only route to go down to treat anxiety disorders. Psychological treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has been reported to help those with generalised anxiety disorder; with the benefits lasting longer that those of medication.3  

The NHS state that CBT helps you to question your negative or anxious thoughts and do things you'd usually avoid because they make you anxious.

It usually involves meeting with a specially trained and accredited therapist for a 1-hour session every week for 3 to 4 months.

Other treatments include guided self-help and applied relaxation. 

However, not all treatments work for everyone and it might take a combination of techniques to help treat anxiety.

Seeking further help

With the latest stats reporting 8.2 million cases of anxiety in the UK, chances are you might know someone who suffers with it or maybe you suffer with anxiety yourself. If anxiety is affecting you and your ability to get on with your everyday life, then seeking medical help and getting a potential diagnoses and treatment plan is your next step. 



  1. Symptoms - Generalised anxiety disorder in adults – NHS
  2. Exercise for Stress and Anxiety - Anxiety & Depression Association of America
  3. Treatment - Generalised anxiety disorder in adults - NHS