Even though anxiety disorder stigma receives very little attention, it is more widespread than most people realize. Here’s what it is and why it is so damaging to society.
Most anxiety sufferers know all about being judged. Anxiety dramatically influences the way you behave and respond to those around you, so it’s only natural to be concerned about what others may think. It’s for this reason that many anxiety sufferers will expend a lot of mental energy harshly judging their own behavior.
If you don’t have an anxiety disorder and have never experienced its effects, you may have developed another problem; that of accepting and supporting views that propagate anxiety disorder stigma.
You may have the best of intentions, but without being aware of it, you could be slowing the recovery process of a friend or loved one whose struggle with anxiety is a daily battle.
Why Judging Can be Harmful
There are many ways to be prejudiced, and stigma about mental health issues is a widespread prejudice that many people are not aware of even having. However, it is very harmful to people who already feel they have little control and are struggling with feelings of apprehension and a self-conscious attitude.
Instead of continuing with your critical viewpoint, you will be a better influence by considering how your opinion is part of the problem and not part of the solution.
Judging Can Delay Treatment and Escalate Symptoms
Anxiety creates an unfounded fear of the unknown and increases uncertainty. When anxiety sufferers are also forced to face the judgment of those closest to them, it can make them feel that getting help will be an unreasonable burden, or even that they need it.
Judgement could even convince them that attempting to change their circumstances will be impossible and lead them towards resisting treatment and support.
Support, treatment, and counseling can help turn negative thought patterns around, reduce the uncomfortable physical sensations associated with anxiety, and improve other symptoms associated with anxiety disorders.
Many anxiety sufferers judge themselves harshly and try to muddle through without support. On occasion, they will even adopt a state of denial about their diagnosis. There are many cases where anxiety sufferers have resorted to substance abuse as a form of self-medication.
Judgment Increases Feelings of Shame and Isolation
Misunderstood anxious people will often be avoided, ridiculed, and rebuked for their condition, which often causes an overreaction. When words like “crazy” and “insane” are used to describe an anxiety sufferer, the stigma becomes deeply painful.
In most cases, the fact that judgment is made from a place of ignorance because the judgmental person rarely has the full story. Judgment ignores the trauma, physical discomfort, and isolation, which are the foundation of the outward behaviors you witness.
Opinions and advice without understanding and compassion are directions without substance and only do more harm than good. They also undermine your ability to positively influence and support others.
Removing the Stigma and Moving Forward
Rather than harbor negative opinions about what you think is going on with an anxiety disorder, you can think of it as a medical condition without any preconceived notions. Anxiety disorders are getting diagnosed more often, and the condition can strike anyone from any demographic.
Practice kindness and acknowledge the trials an anxiety sufferer faces daily. Ask what you can do to help from a place of empathy and an open mind. When you have taken the time to hear the full story, gently suggest that therapy with a qualified mental health professional would be a good idea.
Anxiety disorders are tough enough to deal with without the stigma. If you regularly face the challenges brought on by anxiety, or know someone who does, consider scheduling a consultation with a professional today. To learn more click here: Anxiety Treatment