In my opinion, there is one thing that is way more important than the treatments for anxiety disorders. Of course, I am not saying that it isn’t important. It is! And it can be very helpful.
But, and this is only my own perspective, I think that the mindset that everyone should have before entering treatment is equally important. And sometimes, it can be more important than the treatment itself.
After countless research and experimentation, a multitude of psychotherapy methods and medications have been discovered. Throughout decades of development, these methods have significantly improved (refer to our article on treatments for anxiety disorders). Of course, there’s still a long way to go before we develop more effective methods in managing/treating anxiety disorders.
However, the stigma towards people suffering from anxiety disorders (as well as other mental disorders), have not decreased in accord with the leaps and bounds we made in the development of treatments. In certain countries, the stigma even worsened.
Because of the negative social connotations that people attach to mental illnesses, a large amount of people didn’t receive proper treatment. Some became reluctant to seek for help and guidance, for fear of attracting communal judgment. What’s worse is that some choose to believe that psychological services are in truth a scam.
I hope to contribute (even a little) towards the fight against the stigma and misunderstanding surrounding mental disorders and its treatments. Without further ado, below are the three main points I hope to convery:
1. Understand anxiety disorders
The first step in any battle is always to understand our enemy. It is better for us to build up a healthier mindset early on. Of course, it is never too late to learn about anxiety disorders. Once we understand it, we can detect their potential causes and the ways to help others.
2. Learn about the stigma on anxiety disorders
People who are experiencing anxiety disorders are not weak. Because anxiety disorders can hit almost anyone, sometimes without any precursor signs. Stigma usually come from a lack of understanding and knowledge. People tend to label individuals with mental illnesses as ‘weak’, ‘thinking too much’ or as ‘attention seekers’.
Others might think that mental illnesses are contagious and tend to avoid coming close to those afflicted. But the truth is that mental illnesses are not viruses growing in our brain or body. They can’t spread through air or water, or through a touch or a word we speak.
In short, while stigma might not cause the most devastation, it is definitely the number one factor that stops people from seeking help.
3. Stop reinforcing the stigma
When we hear someone sharing their experiences of having anxiety disorders, be concerned and pay attention to what they say. Understand the severity of their situations and DO NOT jump to conclusions easily. Telling them to ‘stop thinking about it’ or to ‘think positive’ doesn’t help and may sometimes worsen the situation.
Anxiety disorders are not like a flu or a fever, something that will just disappear over time. People who are experiencing it need to seek for professional help as soon as possible. Because anxiety disorders can gradually escalate in intensity if proper treatment is delayed. By strengthening the stigma, we are halting their desire to reach out for assistance.
So, these are the three important points I would like to point out.
To those who think that your action does not affect much, you are wrong. We are all connected and our actions will move the strings tied to those around us.
To those who are suffering from mental illnesses, reach out for help. Believe in science, believe in the professionals who studied for so many years and used up all their savings just to get a degree and graduated with the sole intention to help.
Our actions might not be as glorified as those who left their names in the pages of history, but I believe the weight of the impact that we have onto people who we have influenced are just as equal to the conquests of old.
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