6 Mistakes People With Anxiety Make

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Elizabeth Hanes, RN on June 15, 2021
  • Middle aged woman looking concerned and holding forehead
    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.
  • Man with chest pain
    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.
  • Young Girl Nail Biting
    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.
  • Portrait of laughing office workers
    Mistake #3: Believing Anxiety Only Affects Women
    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.
  • Sad woman isolated from friends
    Mistake #4: Thinking Anxiety Is a Situation of “Mind Over Matter”
    People with anxiety (or the people around them) sometimes believe they should be able to “just get over it.” But if a person could think his or her way out of anxiety, then no one would ever experience this sometimes debilitating disorder. The good news is anxiety often responds well to treatment, including medications to treat some of the symptoms of the condition, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to learn new coping skills, and even complementary therapies like meditation, massage, aromatherapy and general stress management techniques.
  • Woman reading prescription bottle label at laptop
    Mistake #5: Stopping Medications Without Supervision
    Some people respond well to anti-anxiety medications. Others experience side effects that can include fatigue, nightmares or joint pain, among others. However, you should never abruptly stop taking an anti-anxiety medication, as it could trigger an anxiety attack or cause severe withdrawal symptoms. A better idea is to discuss any side effects with the doctor supervising your treatment. It may be possible for you to transition to a different medication and obtain relief from anxiety symptoms without any unpleasant side effects.
  • Worried Woman Waiting
    Mistake #6: Believing Anxiety Always Occurs With Depression
    Because the terms “anxiety” and “depression” often are linked, many people believe “anxiety and depression” is a single disorder. But in truth these are distinct diagnoses. An anxiety disorder is characterized by overwhelming or irrational fear or distress in response to a non-threatening situation. The symptoms of depression, on the other hand, can include sadness, extreme fatigue, and a loss of enjoyment for everyday life. It is entirely possible to experience anxiety without being depressed, and vice versa.
Anxiety Mistakes | 6 Mistakes People With Anxiety Make

About The Author

As “the nurse who knows content,” Elizabeth Hanes, RN, works with national and regional healthcare systems, brands, agencies and publishers to produce all types of consumer-facing content. Formerly a perioperative and cosmetic surgery nurse, Elizabeth today uses her nursing knowledge to inform her writing on a wide variety of medical, health and wellness topics.
  1. Anxiety disorders. National Institute of Mental Health. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml
  2. Social anxiety disorder: More than just shyness. National Institute of Mental Health. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/social-anxiety-disorder-more-than-just-shyness/index.sh...
  3. Anxiety disorders. National Alliance on Mental Illness. https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Anxiety-Disorders
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Last Review Date: 2021 Jun 15
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.