Three common myths about anxiety

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Written by Jackie Roberson on 10 August 2018 in Features

For some, anxiety isn't something you can get past that easily. Jackie Roberson elaborates for TJ.

When you’re leading a company or in charge of managing, training and developing staff members, it’s important to understand as much as you can about key mental health issues and how to help, not hinder, any employees who may be suffering from them.

With anxiety disorders being such a rising problem these days — they’re said to affect at least 40 million adult Americans each year — you need to do your research. Unfortunately, there are pervasive myths that abound around anxiety, which could lead you astray.

To set the record straight, read on for some of the most common misconceptions regarding anxiety disorders and some tips for helping workers in your business who may be suffering from anxiety.

Anxiety is no big deal

For starters, many people erroneously believe that having an anxiety disorder is no big deal. They think a bit of normal, everyday worry is something that everyone experiences and that these feelings shouldn’t be considered a huge problem.

However, for the people who suffer from the disorder, anxiety certainly is a big deal. Anxious feelings don’t go away and tend to get worse over time if left untreated. They can affect life in significant ways make it hard to work or enjoy a social life. Ultimately, they can lead to, or accompany, things like depression and substance abuse issues.

Learn about it as much as you can, so you don’t make incorrect assumptions about staff members, and be careful not to judge workers negatively simply because they have a disorder.

Only weak or unbalanced people experience anxiety

Another common misconception is that anxiety only affects 'weak' or fearful people or those who are unbalanced. This is, of course, a ridiculous notion. Anyone can be affected by the disorder, no matter their age, life experiences, background or other factors.

While anxiety disorders can certainly stem from fear or a specific trauma, this isn’t the only thing that triggers them. Plus, fear is only one component of the problem. Anxiety typically arises from a combination of things, including learned behaviors, biology, genetics, social experiences and environment. Anxiety can often manifest from remorse, something which most humans are familiar with.

There’s just one type of anxiety, and it affects everyone the same way

Many people think there’s just one type of anxiety. This is incorrect. While people with a disorder of this type do typically have symptoms of dread and excessive, irrational fear, there are numerous disorders under the larger umbrella of anxiety. Each one of these can have unique symptoms, too.

For example, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is one of the most common types and leads sufferers to experience chronic worry about day-to-day concerns. This might cover everything from their health and their career through to daily tasks.

Alternatively, Social Anxiety Disorder, also known as social phobia, involves worry usually triggered by other people. It tends to come from fearing judgement from others or worry about interacting with other people. Another common type is Panic Disorder. This type of anxiety leads to sudden, repeated attacks of irrational fear.

It’s important to note that even when people have the same kind of anxiety disorder, their symptoms can present differently. Anxiety can be triggered in different settings or scenarios and be shown in different ways. Some people don’t even show their anxiety outwardly.

Tips for businesses supporting employees with anxiety

Business owners can do much to support employees who suffer from an anxiety disorder. For starters, it’s important to show empathy and to try to understand the problem. Learn about it as much as you can, so you don’t make incorrect assumptions about staff members, and be careful not to judge workers negatively simply because they have a disorder.

You should create a welcoming environment and show team members you’re genuinely concerned about their health and wellness yet won’t discriminate against or marginalise them because of their disorder. Always keep their personal struggles confidential, and be flexible whenever possible to help people get through their work in the healthiest manner.

It’s wise to offer specialised support to people who have anxiety. For instance, make counseling available to workers. You might already have a qualified person on staff who can provide this service, or you may want to hire someone who is trained with one of various types of counseling degrees to provide support in house.

Alternatively, outsource the work to someone external, who your employee(s) can go and see when they need to. Just make sure you find someone who is properly qualified and trained.

Not only is it rude and cruel to discriminate against those suffering from mental illness, but it is illegal in most states to terminate an employee due to a known disability, to include an anxiety disorder. If you show compassion and support, you and your anxious employees are likely to find success.


About the author

Jackie Roberson is a content coordinator at SeekVisibility. 


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