Anxiety: Mostly Harmless?? Let's Try a Few Facts

January 11, 2011 Kate White

Why is anxiety viewed as the relatively benign step-child of mental health conditions? Because if you think it's benign, I assure you it's not.

There's a tendency for people to look down on anxiety because maybe it's not the worst case scenario, or there's a bit more of a silver lining to be found - tatty though it may be.

What disturbs me the most is that with depression, they think you're weak - with anxiety, they think you're hysterical but that it's mostly harmless.

Fact: Anxiety is a serious conditionprint_katrina0375

Not treating anxiety as such - regarding it as just nerves, sidelining it - it's the equivalent of believing that being rained on gives you genuine insight into a hurricane.

Fact: Anxiety and panic kill

Don't think people with PTSD commit suicide? Think OCD doesn't cost people their marriages, or that panic attacks don't put people on the unemployment line?

The stories people hold inside, when they live with anxiety day in and day out, aren't filled with a whole lot of happily ever afters.

But that's easy to overlook, once the panic has past. Everything looks normal enough, and sometimes 'normal enough' is good enough. But it isn't good enough to get to the causes of panic, or treat anxiety.

Fact: Anxiety is destructive to relationships

I tend to take a lot of my stress out on those closest to me, as do a lot of us.

Because I'm juggling work, relationships, and an anxiety disorder, and the panic and stress has to come out somewhere.

Usually that means waiting for "a good time" to allow that to happen, so that it doesn't happen at a really bad time: in the middle of a meeting, driving the kids to school.

Which means anxiety affects us the most when we feel safest - with close friends, family, or a therapist.

Ideally it would all be carefully corralled so as not to cut destructive swathes through the more public arenas of my life; It'd come out in therapy, or be managed with medication;

Back in reality, where nothing stays in its place and my name might as well be Alice, I know that...

Anxiety is unavoidable in relationships. Fact.

When the normal stress of vulnerability experienced inside every relationship is added to the very real need for release, anxiety is unavoidable.

I can only keep the panic boxed in for so long -- and the eye of the storm may be pleasant, but it's rather foolish place to build a Zen garden. Which is exactly what one is trying do having a relationship and hoping that it won't be chewed up and spat out by your anxiety disorder.

Anxiety, relationships, and you

Anxiety is the third wheel, and very likely the most uncomfortable menage-a-trois one could think of short of waking up next to Al Gore in a Telly Tubby suit.

Hence I tout the whole awareness thing, and force myself to get out of the house, do things like yoga, which allow stress and anxiety to vent, elsewhere. Better than it all pour down on the heads of my nearest and dearest, though rain I know it shall.

APA Reference
White, K. (2011, January 11). Anxiety: Mostly Harmless?? Let's Try a Few Facts, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 18 from

Author: Kate White

Dr Musli Ferati
January, 15 2011 at 11:16 pm

Anxiety is an imaginary fear that tortures everybody everywhere and in any time. It has double acting effect on our well-being: positive and negative ones. It depends both on its intensity and lasting. If anxiety is frantically and daily experience then it harms our psychological integrity as well as destroy personal, professional and social efficacy. In the same time undergoes the constitution of the body. Moreover, anxiety stimulate our mind, arouse interest and advances the self-knowledge. The border between these counteractions seems to be a great unacquainted which should elucidate a day before.

January, 13 2011 at 7:16 am

I have been struggling with dehabilitating anxiety for the majority of my life and I have definitely had people disregard it as a real problem because they think it is just something "everyone has". I really appreciate you writing about this. It is important for people to be more aware.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kate White
January, 13 2011 at 9:36 am

hi Molly,
Oh you're welcome. Yeah, I've heard it put like that, too. And to a degree, it's true -- true enough people can get away with saying it at least. But people can get away with saying a lot! In this case, it's an actively harmful semi-truth. I take objection to that kind of thing.

January, 13 2011 at 6:42 am

You know, I really want to kick the crap out of smarmy people-- including behavioral therapists and other so-called "experts"-- when they drone about how anxiety isn't dangerous. Aside from the above examples, what about what it does to you physiologically? I mean, there's a huge anti-stress industry in this country, and it's not all for bored housewives. Ask any cardiologist what high blood pressure and elevated heart rates do to that noble pump. Then tell me again how anxiety isn't dangerous.
Speaking of cardiology, the analogy I like to use to rub smug asshats' words in their own condescension is this: Hey, person having a heart attack or stroke! Come on... it's just a teeny little blood clot. You probably couldn't even see it with your naked eye. Quit turning blue and clutching your chest and wheezing; knock off with the drooping face on one side. You're more than a tiny little blood clot, so walk it off already.
Fun, yes? Let's station volunteers in emergency rooms solely to say that to incoming patients. I bet family members and other loved ones would appreciate it. Tee hee!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kate White
January, 13 2011 at 9:34 am

hi SB,
Brilliant comment! Absolutely. LOL Well said.

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