“All of us at anxietycentre.com have experienced debilitating anxiety. But we’ve also overcome it and returned to normal and lasting health. Because we know the hardship anxiety unwellness can cause, we are committed to helping others, with over 30 years of service.” - Jim Folk, President, anxietycentre.com

Anxiety Is A Behavioral Wellness Issue

Jim Folk author
Written by: Jim Folk.
Medically reviewed by: Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated: November 29, 2019


anxiety is a behavioral wellness issues

In an online poll we conducted 2014, 58 percent of respondents said there was something wrong with people who had anxiety disorder and that anxiety disorder was associated with a negative stigma.

In an online poll we conducted in 2015, 80 percent of respondents said the term "mental illness" suggests that there is something wrong with a person’s mind.

Is it any wonder why anxiety disorder is associated with a negative stigma?

What’s more troubling is that research shows only one third of people who struggle with anxiety disorder seek help. And the biggest reason for not seeking help is because of the negative stigma attached to having a "mental illness."

Not seeking help could mean a lifetime of needless struggle with anxiety disorder.

This is because issues with anxiety disorder seldom resolve on their own. Unless a person works at overcoming problematic anxiety, it can continue to cause problems throughout life.

Since anxiety disorder develops for specific reasons, it doesn’t have to be a life-long condition. Addressing those reasons can eliminate problems with anxiety.

Those who struggle with long-term anxiety disorder often do so for three main reasons:

  1. They don’t understand anxiety and how it can affect the body.
  2. They don’t seek professional help.
  3. They don’t make the necessary behavioral changes to overcome a struggle with problematic anxiety.

Illuminating the true cause of anxiety disorder could make a difference in not only the number of people who seek help but in the number of success stories and in the way anxiety disorder is perceived.

Why a behavioral wellness issue rather than a “mental illness”?

The term mental illness has its roots back in the days when anxiety (and other mental health issues) was thought to have been caused by a disease with the brain, similar to other bodily diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. Attempts to treat anxiety date back as far as 5000 BCE so the concept of anxiety being a disease of the brain goes a long way back.

But even after all this time, the "physical disease" perception persists even today.

For example, in a recent radio interview, a representative for the Canadian Mental Health Association called anxiety disorder “a disease of the mind like any other medical disease.”

Of course I was surprised to hear this comment, as anxiety is no such thing. But this is just one example of many where the "physical disease" notion still persists even among mental health professionals.

Today, however, we know much more about anxiety, its causes, and its treatment. Anxiety is no more a disease of the brain or mind than being angry or disappointed are.

So, what causes anxiety?

The term "anxiety" is defined as: a feeling of worry, nervousness, and unease typically about an imminent event or uncertain outcome.

What causes worry, nervousness and unease? Apprehensive behavior!

That’s right. A style of behavior causes a feeling of worry, nervousness, and unease, and therefore, anxiety.

Worry can be defined as: allowing one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles.

Behavior is defined as: a way in which one thinks and acts; how one conducts oneself.

Apprehensive behavior causes anxiety.  Anxiety is NOT caused by a disease of the brain or mind.

This is evidenced by the fact that almost everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. This is normal.

People who struggle with anxiety disorder, however, do so because they approach life more apprehensively than others and not because there is something wrong with their brains or minds.

An overly apprehensive approach to life is learned. We explain this in detail in the Recovery Support area of our website.

Nevertheless, because anxiety is caused by a style of behavior, we suggest anxiety disorder would be better perceived as a "behavioral wellness" issue rather than a mental illness issue.

While there are real mental health illnesses - where there is damage or disease that affects the brain and/or mind - anxiety is not one of them.

Yes, apprehensive behavior can cause physical symptoms. That's because our thoughts directly affect the physical body. But the cause of anxiety disorder is unhealthy behavior rather than the result of a brain or mental “disease.”

Not only will this change benefit sufferers who want to seek help but don’t because of the negative “mental illness” stigma associated with anxiety disorder, but it will also help those working at recovery and their affected loved ones.

A change in public opinion can make a positive difference when suffering with and working through anxiety disorder.

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The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to address anxiety disorder and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed - the underlying factors that motivate apprehensive behavior - a struggle with anxiety disorder can return again and again. Identifying and successfully addressing anxiety's underlying factors is the best way to overcome problematic anxiety.


Additional Resources:


Visit our Anxiety Disorders Symptoms section.

anxietycentre.com: Anxiety is a 'Behavioral Wellness' issue, not a mental illness.